‘Police team tracking Riyaz Naikoo’s movements didn’t sleep for weeks’

‘Won't give bodies to families till Coronavirus crisis is over: IGP Vijay Kumar

Srinagar: After chasing Hizb top Commander Reyaz Naikoo for over 6 months, police finally managed to neutralize him in his native village in South Kashmir.

Naikoo, a resident of Beighpora Awantipora, was killed along with his associate on Wednesday triggering clashes while authorities snapped mobile internet and calling facility across Kashmir Valley.

Inspector General of Police Kashmir Zone, Vijay Kumar confirmed to KNT that over a dozen protesters were injured after the encounter among which some of them sustained bullet injuries. But he said, situation is under control and all the injured are stable.

“There was massive stone-pelting in and around the encounter site. Protesters damaged two of our vehicles,” Kumar said while divulging information about the encounter that led to the killing of Hizb Commander.

Locals inspecting the damaged house where Naikoo and his aide were killed in an encounter. Image: UMAR GANIE

He said from past six months, Jammu Kashmir Police was after Reyaz Naikoo. “The basic task of police is to generate human and technical intelligence. Our DIG Atul and his team were chasing Naikoo for a long time but from past week, when we suffered some set back in North Kashmir, the team got more involved in tracking the movements of Naikoo.”

“Every movement of Naikoo was being tracked. Some of the policemen slept for only one or two hours. During our hunt for Naikoo, we managed to bust at least 6 hideouts, used by Reyaz Naikoo. We tracked the movements of Naikoo and his sympathizers. We arrested and interrogated some of the OGW’s and got important information.”

IGP Kashmir said that first day when police cordoned off the area where Naikoo was hiding, they didn’t find anything. “We were sure that Naikoo is here and thus didn’t lift the cordon. We called army and troopers. Next day, when we started search operation again, militants fired on us and we retaliated and killed the Commander,” he said.

An army soldier shows victory sign after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen chief #RiyazNaikoo during an encounter at Beighpora, Awantipora in Pulwama district on 06/05/2020. IMAGE: UMAR GANIE

Kumar said that he won’t shy away from the fact that Naikoo had a grip on the militant ranks and his influence on the youth was immense. “Through his power of influence, he was recruiting youth to militancy. Now that he is dead, the recruitment process will come down.”

Kumar said that Naikoo was frequently releasing videos, motivating youth to join militancy, threatening and intimidating people and police. “He was involved in many killings. Narcotic trade was the main source of his income. His killing will give relief to a large number of people,” he said.

Inspector General of Police made it clear that police won’t hand over the bodies of militants or any civilian to families, till the Coronavirus threat is over. “We admitted that the civilian killed in Handwara was innocent. We motivated his family and buried him in Baramulla in presence of his parents. There were apprehensions that a large number of people will participate in his funeral if we hand over the body to family. Till Coronavirus crisis is not over, we won’t handover the bodies of militants to families,” he said adding that cellular and internet service will be restored once they have complete control over the situation. (KNT)

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