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Who was Reyaz Naikoo? Big blow to Kashmir militancy, Hizb Commander dead

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Top Hizb Commander Reyaz Naikoo was killed in a South Kashmir gunfight on Wednesday. Reports said that an associate of Naikoo was also killed in the operation.

Combined Forces laid a siege around the native village Beighpora, Awantipora of Reyaz Naiko on Tuesday night. Those who were part of the operation included soldiers from 55 Rashtriya Rifles, 185 Battalion CRPF, and Special Operations Group of Jammu and Kashmir Police.

Mobile internet services in Kashmir were suspended after the contact with militants in Beighpora. Calling on the Jio network has also been suspended.

The gunfight started between militants and government forces in the Beighpora area of Pulwama district in south Kashmir, a police spokesman said.

“Police last night launched an operation on a specific input at Beighpora. During the encounter Hizb Commander Reyaz Naikoo and his two associates were killed.

A police official told KNT that bodies of two militants were retrieved while search for the body of the third militant is going on. He confirmed the killing of Naiko and his associate whose identity is being ascertained.

If sources are to be believed, Naikoo had gone to meet his ailing mother at his house.

Clashes erupt after the news broke about the death of Reyaz Naiko. Massive stone-pelting erupted at Beighpora, Gulzarpora, Charsoo, Padgampora and adjacent areas. Forces used tear-smoke shells to disperse the protesters.

Prior to joining the militant ranks, Naikoo was a mathematics teacher. He was known to have a passion for painting roses before he picked up the gun at the age of 33 .A prize money of Rs 12 lakh will be given to those who helped in trapping Reyaz Naikoo.

Notably, an overnight cordon and search operation was launched after the J&K Police were tipped off about his presence in Beighpora area of Pulwama district in south Kashmir. The police trapped the militant commander in the targeted area on Wednesday morning and killed him in encounter.

Naikoo, one of the oldest members of the banned Hizbul Mujahideen outfit, took over as its commander after the poster boy and Commander Burhan Wani was killed in a gunfight with the government forces in Kokarnag area in Anantnag district on July 8, 2016.

Naikoo made his presence felt for the first time in January 2016, during the funeral of Shariq Ahmad Bhat, who had been killed in an encounter. Riyaz had fired shots in the air with his Kalashnikov rifle, reviving a long-gone tradition of paying tributes to slain militants in Kashmir.

He was a top-rated (A++ category) militant in Kashmir who carried a reward of Rs 12 lakh on his head.

Naikoo was born to Asadullah and Zeba in Beighpora village of Awantipora tehsil in district Pulwama in April 1985. Asadullah and Zeba worked their own fields in Beighpora, while Asadullah also set up a small tailoring shop.The second among a sister and three brothers, Naikoo studied at the government school in the neighboring village of Gulzarpora, and then at the Higher Secondary School in Noorpora—home to the family of Zakir Musa.

Naikoo joined militancy in May 2012. (KNT)

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