Big strike for forces. But aim to prevent more Riyaz Naikoos from rising
In a big success for security forces in Kashmir, Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo was killed along with an aide in a five-hour gunbattle in Pulwama district. Naikoo was eliminated just days after the Handwara encounter in which eight security personnel including Colonel Ashutosh Sharma perished in action. Naikoo was on the run for eight years and carried a reward of Rs 12 lakh on his head. Therefore, his neutralisation will certainly be a blow to militancy in Kashmir.
That said, Naikoo’s encounter and other firefights with terrorists in recent weeks show that militancy (the use of confrontational or violent methods in support of a political or social cause) continues to plague Kashmir. The scrapping (throw away) of special status for J&K last year was indeed India’s internal matter. But given the long-term objectives of the terrorists and their sponsors in Pakistan, the nullification of Article 370 is likely being used by militants to spread their anti-India propaganda. This is precisely why New Delhi needs to redouble its efforts to win hearts and minds in Kashmir, especially among Kashmiri youths.
In other words, the hard approach towards terrorists needs to be complemented by a soft approach towards Kashmiri youths, to win the battle against militancy in Kashmir.