Riyaz Naikoo, Kashmir’s most wanted terrorist, carries Rs 12 lakh reward

Updated on May 06, 2020 01:41 PM IST

Security forces had launched the operation to nab Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Riyaz Naikoo on Tuesday night on a specific input Beigpora Gulzapora in Awantipora.

Riyaz Naikoo took over as the chief of Hizbul Mujahideen after the outfit’s poster boy Burhan Wani was killed in a gunfight with the security forces in Kokarnag area in Anantnag district on July 8, 2016.(Photo: Twitter/ @IjoydeepRoy)
Riyaz Naikoo took over as the chief of Hizbul Mujahideen after the outfit’s poster boy Burhan Wani was killed in a gunfight with the security forces in Kokarnag area in Anantnag district on July 8, 2016.(Photo: Twitter/ @IjoydeepRoy)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | Byhindustantimes.com | Edited by Meenakshi Ray

The gunfight in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district has brought the spotlight back on Riyaz Ahmed Naikoo, the most wanted terrorist in the valley.

Security forces had launched the operation to nab Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Riyaz Naikoo on Tuesday night on a specific input Beigpora Gulzapora in Awantipora.

“Contact established in the third operation at #Beighpors #Awantipur. Top terrorist commander is trapped. Exchange of fire on. Details shall follow,” J&K police tweeted.

Riyaz Naikoo took over as the chief of Hizbul Mujahideen after the outfit’s poster boy Burhan Wani was killed in a gunfight with the security forces in Kokarnag area in Anantnag district on July 8, 2016.

A post-graduate, he carries a reward of Rs 12 lakh on his head.

A resident of Naikoo Mohalla in Durbug of Awantipora, Riyaz Naikoo has been listed as a category “A++” militant, which is given to the most-wanted terrorist in the Valley. He took over as chief of the Hizbul Mujahideen in the Valley after the killing of his associate Sabzar Bhat in May 2017.

“Naikoo is now considered to be the overall commander of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) for the entire Valley. In the last one year, the security forces cornered him many times but each time he has managed to escape,” a central security force official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, had said while speaking to HT.

Naikoo, the officer had said, has assiduously cultivated an image of a moderate militant.

He is said to have worked as a mathematics teacher at a local school before joining the terrorist ranks. He was known to have a passion for painting roses before he picked up the gun.

Naikoo had released a video in 2017, saying he would welcome the return of Kashmiri Pandits in the Kashmir Valley and claimed that terrorists were not enemies of the Pandits.

Riyaz Naikoo is also believed to be behind the revival of the “Gun Salute” that terrorists give to their fallen comrades at their funeral.

Security officials also believe Naikoo has managed to draft many young people from south Kashmir into militancy due to his image.

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