Forces deal body blow to Hizb in terror’s choicest season | India News

NEW DELHI: Even as latest inputs suggest attempts by terrorists to step up strikes in J&K coincide with the anniversary of the Battle of Badr — the first military victory of Prophet Muhammad — on May 11, the security forces have put Hizbul Mujahideen on the back foot by neutralising its top commander Riyaz Naikoo.
Sources in the security establishment said while the leadership crisis is bound to throw Hizb’s plans into disarray, there could still be a backlash from other commanders down the hierarchy or even by Pakistani outfits like Jaish-e-Muhammad or Lashkar-e-Taiba, to “avenge” Naikoo’s death.
The past couple of weeks have witnessed heightened terrorist activity, with the Army and CRPF suffering reverses and fatalities in Handwara and Kupwara. The central security establishment sees the spike in terror attacks in Kashmir as a phenomenon usual to Ramzan, when most terrorist groups get active and step up operations in the Valley.
“This was not the case last year as the forces were on top and neutralising terrorists in good numbers. With the anniversary of Battle of Badr approaching on May 11 (17th day of Ramzan), we expected terrorists to attempt more strikes as it is widely believed by outfits like Jaish and Lashkar — now operating under the garb of The Resistance Front (TRF) — that they go to “jannat (heaven)” if they kill non-believers in this period. But the forces decided to pre-empt the terrorists by going for intelligence-based strikes, so as to put them on the back foot,” a senior central paramilitary officer said.
As part of this strategy, four terrorists, including Naikoo were killed on Wednesday. In fact, till May 6, 68 terrorists have been neutralised, including 22 from Hizbul Mujahideen, eight from LeT, eight from JeM, three from Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, three from Islamic State Jammu & Kashmir (ISJK), and 24 unidentified. In the whole of 2019, 156 terrorists were killed.
“Precise intelligence regarding Naikoo’s presence in a house in Beigpora was available to the Army, CRPF and J&K police on Tuesday and they lost no time in moving in. Naikoo was killed around 1.30pm on Wednesday, giving us our big success during Ramzan,” a CRPF officer said.
“While we have suffered some reverses, we will soon make the scores even,” added another officer. However, officers warned that they could not be complacent as the top Hizb commander was not the only terror mastermind in the Valley. “There are other Hizb commanders who may try to hit back and fill the void. Also, JeM and LeT, which had good networking with Naikoo, may like to ‘avenge’ his killing,” the CRPF officer said.

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