Riyaz Naikoo, a secular appointed Hizbul's chief in J&K
The Hizbul Mujahideen has appointed a tech-savvy terrorist as its commander in Jammu and Kashmir. Riyaz Naikoo, 29 replaced Sabzar Bhat who was killed in an encounter on Saturday.
Naikoo is ideologically different when compared to Bhat. He prefers a secular society in Kashmir. He had recently urged the Kashmiri Pandits to return to the Valley.
Naikoo who also goes by the name Zubair had said recently in a 11 minute video that Kashmiri Pandits have a warm place in his heart. We welcome them to Kashmir. They are part of our nation. We will protect them as they are not our enemies he had also said.
The choice of Naikoo is interesting. While the likes of Bhat and Musa who was recently shunted out of the Hizbul called for the establishment of a Caliphate in Kashmir, Naikoo does not share a similar view.
Intelligence Bureau officials say that there appears to be a change in narrative by the Hizbul with the appointment of Naikoo. The video posted by Musa recently where he threatened to behead the Kashmiri separatists has not gone down well at all in Pakistan.
The Hizbul too distanced itself from the comments made by Musa.
Moreover the Hizbul is not in favour of imposing the ISIS ideology in Kashmir. They want to change the narrative set by the likes of Musa and Bhat. Hence the appointment of Naikoo was made in a bid to change the hardline narrative.