Schoolteacher to one of Valley’s most wanted men
SRINAGAR: Riyaz Naikoo, who rose to prominence in the Hizbul ranks after the encounter killing of militant leader Burhan Wani in 2016, dodged the police for eight years, before he was finally killed in an encounter in his village in south Kashmir’s Pulwama on Wednesday. A resident of Gulzarpora Beighpora, Naikoo was named in the killings of civilians including truck drivers, and policemen. Before joining the Hizbul Mujahideen, Naikoo used to teach mathematics at a private school in Pulwama. The son of a farmer, Naikoo was detained by security forces during the unrest of 2010 and released in 2012. He was believed to have been radicalised around the same time.
After Wani’s death, Naikoo stepped up, and circulated his audio and video messages on the social media to attract the youth. The bespectacled de facto chief Hizbul chief used the web to find new recruits. A postgraduate, he carried a reward of Rs 12 lakh on his head. Naikoo was listed a category “A++” militant, which is the classification for most-wanted militants in the Valley.