Breaking: Punjab Police traces inter-state links of slain Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Riyaz Naikoo, Two arrested

Naikoo and his associate were killed on May 6 in an encounter in Beighpora village of Awantipora in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir

SRINAGAR: In a major expose, the Punjab government on Thursday said that the Punjab Police has traced inter-state links of slain Pakistan-supported Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’s top terror commander Riyaz Naikoo. This has come to light after the Punjab Police arrested two accomplices of Naikoo’s close associate, Hilal Ahmed Wagay, from Amritsar.

Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, the state government said, “In a major expose, Punjab Police has traced inter-state links of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Riaz Ahmed Naikoo, with the arrest of two accomplices of his close associate, Hilal Ahmed Wagay, from Amritsar.”

Naikoo and his associate were killed on May 6 in an encounter in Beighpora village of Awantipora in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir. His elimination is a major blow to the local terror groups active in the area. He became a Militant in May 2012 and was a close associate of former Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief Burhan Wani.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Thursday asserted that they were tracking Naikoo for the last six months. J&K Police IG (Kashmir Range) Vijay Kumar said, “We were tracking Riyaz Naikoo for six months.” He further said that anti-terror operations will be increased and there will be no slow down on them.

Kumar stated that Naikoo was a Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander and he was trying to recruit youth. He was also involved in the killing of civilians, added Kumar. “We are proud of our security forces who managed to kill him. It’s a relief. Naikoo was finally found in the seventh hideout, earlier we had found six hideouts but never caught him,” he added.

Speaking on the current law and order, Kumar added, “We have tools like curfew and communication blockade. There would have been so many rumour-mongering and that’s why we shut internet and phone services.”

On May 6, in a big move to stop glorification and big funeral procession of Militants, the bodies of Naikoo and his associate were not handed over to their relatives. The J&K administration decided to bury them and not reveal the location. This decision also came at the backdrop of stone-pelting by youths on a vehicle of security forces in Pulwama at the encounter site of Naikoo.

Kumar said, “Handwara is a red zone and that’s why we didn’t hand over the body of civilian to the family. Till the time there is coronavirus COVID-19 even local militant bodies would not be handed over to the families.”

He stated that the security forces have eliminated 64 Militants  since January 2020 in 27 operations and arrested 25 active Militants . He also added that The Resistance Force (TRF) is an offshoot of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and it came into existence after international pressure on Pakistan.

All the militants  which were on our list of LeT are of TRF. Now they have Hizb-ul-Mujahideen also but most of them are LeT’s. We have blocked TRF communications and that’s why they haven’t said anything on Naikoo’ killing,” said Kumar.

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

Security forces hold Naikoo responsible for holding Hizbul together after its possible disintegration when Zakir Musa broke away from the Hizbul ranks to form his own splinter group.(Agencies)

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