Srinagar: Security forces started a massive search operation on Tuesday evening in the native village of J&K's most wanted militant commander, Riyaz Naikoo, in Pulwama district.
Sources told IANS that after receiving credible information that top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo had come to visit his home in Beighpora village in Pulwama district, security forces, including the Rashtriya Rifles (RR), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the local police, moved in quickly to seal all entry and exit points of the village.
"The adjoining Gulzarpora village has also been brought under the cordon and search operation is on to ensure that once trapped, he is unable to escape," sources said.
The same sources, however, added that so far there has been no firing either from the security forces or from the militants in the cordoned area.
Riyaz Naikoo took over as the commander of Hizbul Mujahideen after the outfit's poster boy and commander Burhan Wani was killed in a gunfight with the security forces in Kokarnag area in Anantnag district on July 8, 2016.
Naikoo carries a reward of Rs 12 lakh on his head.
Before joining the militant ranks, Naikoo worked as a mathematics teacher at a local school. He was known to have passion for painting roses before he picked up the gun at the age of 33.
Security forces hold Naikoo responsible for holding the Hizbul together after its possible disintegration when Zakir Musa broke away from the Hizbul ranks to form his own splinter group.
Musa split from the Hizbul in 2017 and formed his own group called Ansar Ghazwatul Hind that claimed to be the Indian affiliate of the Al-Qaeda.
Musa was killed in Dadsara area in Tral tehsil in an encounter with the security forces on May 23, 2019.