School­teacher to one of Val­ley’s most wanted men

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - NEWS - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.

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