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After killing Hizbul commander Riyaz Naikoo, Indian Army hunting for top ten militants active in Kashmir

SRINAGAR : Days after eliminating the Pakistan-supported militants outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’s (HM) local commander Riyaz Naikoo, the Indian Army is said to be hunting for top ten militants active in Kashmir Valley.

According to reports, the Army has released a list of its top ten targets in Kashmir Valley, which includes – 1) New Hizbul commander Dr Saifullah, whose code name @Gazi Hyder or doctor sahib. He joined Hizb-ul-Mujahideen in October 2014; 2) Mohd Ashraf Khan, code name Ashraf Molvi @ Mansoor-ul-Islam. He joined HM on September 9, 2016; 3) Junaid Sehrai (HM); 4) Mohm Abbas Sheikh, code name Turabi Molvi, active since 3 March 2015 and affiliated to HM; 5) Zahid Zargar, who joined Jaish-e-Mohammad in late 2014; 6) Shakur linked to LeT since 2015; 7) Faisal Bhai, who is a +category terrorist, who joined Jaish in 2015; 8) Sheraz al lone, code name Molvi; 9) Saleem Paray linked to JM; 10) Owais Mullick, who is affiliated to LeT.

This comes days after Riyaz Ahmad Naikoo, the 35-year-old local commander of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, was killed in an encounter with security forces in South Kashmir’s Awantipora.

In August 2017, a year after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, security forces had gunned down his successor, Yasin Itoo alias Mehmood Ghaznavi, in Shopian. The Pakistan-backed outfit turned to Naikoo, naming him chief of its operations in the Valley with the additional task of regrouping its ranks.

Under Naikoo, who went by the name of Mohammad bin Qasim, the Hizbul soon returned to the centrestage of militancy in the Valley and he showed up on the radar of every security agency.

According to police, Naikoo was the man behind a string of attacks on police, security forces and civilians including the killing of six migrant labourers in Kulgam, fruit traders and a trucker in Shopian following the abrogation of J&K’s special status last year and the killing of a sarpanch and two civilians.

Police believe Naikoo ordered the abduction of policemen and the looting of nine weapons from the Srinagar residence of a former PDP MLA.

According to reports, as many as 28 militants have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir in the month of April this year – the highest since August 2019 when the PM Narendra Modi government scrapped Article 370 in J&K and divided the state into two union territories.

However, according to the armed forces, at least 35 local youths have joined militant groups in the first four months of this year despite the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus and increased presence of security personnel in J&K,

As many as 64 militants were killed in Kashmir and along the Line of Control (LoC) this year so far, including the two killed on Sunday in Handwara.

In 2019, 152 militants were killed in J&K as against 215 in 2018, according to the official figures.(Agencies)

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