A day after Riyaz Ahmad Naikoo, one of the most wanted militants in the Valley, was killed in an encounter, J&K police sources said he was found hiding in an attic of a house in Beighpora, his home village in South Kashmir.
Giving details of the joint operation by security forces that led to the killing of Naikoo, police sources said the Hizbul Mujahideen commander was hiding in the attic that had been covered with a false ceiling.
A police officer who entered the house spotted a new nail on the ceiling cover. The officer knocked on it and that was when gunshots rang out, sources said.
Security forces showed up in Beighpora after a phone call Naikoo made to an Over Ground Worker (OGW) was traced to the village — he rarely used a phone, relying on the Virtual Private Network (VPN) to communicate.
“Over the last few days, we had picked up several OGWs for questioning,” a senior police officer privy to the operation told The Indian Express. One of the OGWs, the officer said, had reset his phone and that made police question him at length.
He eventually led police to a cluster of houses but Naikoo could not be traced despite searches, sources said.
On May 5, the police shared its intelligence with other security forces and a joint operation was launched. Not ruling out the possibility of Naikoo being in an underground hideout, excavators were also brought in.
Editorial | A turning point
“We searched two houses but could not find him. We were expecting an underground hideout. We shifted our focus to a third house which belonged to his relative. We searched it three times but could not find him. A police officer went in for one last look and spotted a ceiling sheet with a fresh nail on it. He knocked on it and there was gunfire from inside,” the officer said.
Naikoo and an associate, identified as Adil Ahmad of Shopian, were killed in the gunbattle that followed. They were buried Wednesday night in Sonamarg.
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