After Sabzar Bhat, tech-savvy Naikoo becomes new Hizbul commander in Kashmir
A day after the killing of Sabzar Bhat, who succeeded Burhan Wani, Pakistan-sponsored terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen identified 29-year-old Riyaz Naikoo as its new commander in Kashmir.
According to media reports, Jammu and Kashmir Police see Naikoo as the new Hizbul commander in the Valley and also believes him to be the oldest surviving terrorist of the outfit.
Naikoo, a tech savvy unlike Sabzar, is considered a moderate among the hardline Hizbul terrorists, and speaks contrary to the toppled Hizbul commander Zakir Musa. He favours a secular society in the Kashmir Valley.
Hizbul Mujahideen could prefer Naikoo over the two other oldest surviving militants — Altaf Kachroo and Saddam Padder — as the outfit may bank on him to use the social networking sites to galvanise support for militancy in Kashmir.
A few months ago, Naikoo, is his 11-minute video address, had invited Kashmiri Pandits to return to the Valley.
“We will welcome them (Kashmiri Pandits) warmly and there is always place for them in our hearts. They are part of our nation. We are their protectors and not their enemies”,” Naikoo had said.
Times of India cited intelligence sources saying Hizbul is likely to nominate Naikoo as its new chief to counter the narrative of deposed commander Zakir Musa that terrorists in Kashmir were fighting for an Islamic Caliphate and imposition of Shariat.
Intelligence agencies believe that Hizbul is under tremendous pressure from ISI after deposed commander Zakir Musa last week spoke about establishing a Caliphate in the Valley, besides threatening separatists against terming Kashmir’s struggle as political fight.
Indeed, after Zakir's statement, PoK-based Hizbul spokesman Salim Hashmi had distanced the outfit from his statement.
Naikoo is a top rated militant and Hizbul Mujahideen could be banking on him as he has remained active for over three years and had even completed his higher studies.
Unlike Sabzar, who was a school dropout, Naikoo is tech-savvy and may attract impressionable minds towards terrorism through social media.
Naikoo, who is from Durbug, Awantipora, has been giving the forces a tough time and they have been looking for him for a long time.
Along with Saddam Padder and Altaf Kachroo, Naikoo is rated ‘A++’ category terrorist carrying a Rs 12 lakh bounty on information leading to his arrest.