Riyaz Naikoo, who welcomed Kashmiri Pandits, is new Hizbul commander

New Delhi, May 29: A day after the encounter of Sabzar Bhat, Hizbul Mujahideen reportedly appointed Riyaz Naikoo as its new commander. 29-year-old Naikoo, the eldest member of the outfit, is considered a little different from his contemporaries.

Here are a few facts about Naikoo which differentiate him from previous Hizbul commandoes.

* Naikoo is tech-savvy and is likely to use social media to make his point

* Naikoo is considered moderate among the hardline terrorists

* Naikoo holds different opinion than previous commander Zakir Musa

* He roots for secular culture in the Kashmir valley

* He once urged Kashmiri Pandits to return to their home in an 11-minute video – “We will welcome them (Kashmiri Pandits) warmly and there is always a place for them in our hearts. They are part of our nation. We are their protectors and not their enemies.”

* He is likely to demolish the image of Hizbul created by Musa- that militants in Kashmir were fighting for an Islamic Caliphate and imposition of Shariat.

He might be moderate from other terrorists but is still a problem for Indian Army. An A++ category terrorist, Naikoo holds a bounty of Rs 12 lakh for information leading to his arrest.

According to police records, Naikoo entered terrorism after release from detention under Public Safety Act. He has been accused of killing several police officers. He is considered a close associate of Burhan Wani and was seen is some photographs with him.

(Inputs from ANI & TOI)

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