In major success to the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, top Hizbul commander Riyaz Naikoo was eliminated in a joint operation of the Army and J&K police. Naikoo was giving a slip to the security forces for the last three years but eventually, he was gunned down by security forces on Wednesday. So suddenly how security forces zeroed in on Naikoo which eventually led to his killing? Let's find out.

Just like many other militants operating in the Kashmir shied away from using mobile for communicating. Over the years, his movement could not be traced by the police due to this approach. The central government abrogated Article 370 and suspended the internet in the valley. Five months after August 5 declaration 2G services were restored but ban on all social media platforms and applications that offered peer-to-peer communication continued making it difficult for people like Naikoo to communicate with his associates.

Riyaz Naikoo

Militants including Naikoo started new avenues of communicating using VPN (virtual private network). A VPN is used to bypass a firewall created by a server to access banned websites. It also enables users to send and receive data across public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network.

Use of a mobile phone led to his killing

As per a report in the Indian Express, Naikoo was constantly using VPNs to remain unidentified. He preferred a secured messaging platform called Bat Messenger, with a username Williamson.

Notably, BAT Messenger is an instant messenger that secures and encrypts all messages sent and received by a user which will protect a user from any data theft or snooping.

In fact, he used the same username for other communication platforms. But then he committed the cardinal sin of using a mobile phone. In the last few days, police were tracking a mobile number which they suspected belonged to Naikoo.

Indian Army
Indian Army soldiers in KashmirCredit: Reuters

One of the sources said, "It was unusual for him to use a regular phone. He committed a mistake and his phone number emerged on the radar of the police. A search operation was launched, based on that technical input. Prolonged cordon and a minute search led to the discovery of his hideout."

Since Tuesday evening security forces were conducting a search and cordon operation, which was over by Wednesday afternoon after Naikoo was eliminated.