Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo was killed in a joint operation by the Indian Army, CRPF and the Jammu and Kashmir Police on Wednesday in Pulwama

A phone intercept of one the terrorists trapped during the encounter in which Hizbul Mujahideen chief Riyaz Naikoo was killed on Wednesday hints at a rift between the Hizbul and the newly formed The Resistance Front (TRF) dubbed as a front for Laskar-e-Taiba (LeT) in the Kashmir valley.

The trapped terrorist was heard speaking to a person he addresses as Wahid Bhai that they have been cornered and the TRF is responsible for this.

“We are stuck in Beighpora, Pulwama... I am injured but Riyaz Bhai is fighting. This the doing of our own people. This new tanzeem (TRF) they are the ones behind this. Stay away from them, they will ruin our Kashmir,” the terrorist is heard in the intercept.

Sources say this is a clear indicator that TRF and Hizbul Mujahideen are divided.

The terrorist was also heard blaming the new group TRF for hatching a conspiracy that led to them being trapped.

Security forces had specific information about Naikoo’s movements and that he was to visit his family in his native village of Beighpora in Pulwama district of South Kashmir. His location was zeroed in to a house where he took shelter hoping to meet his family.

Sources said it’s not clear whether the voice was one of the terrorists killed along with Naikoo but he was definitely in the area and got injured.

“In all probability he was the one accompanying him who got killed but there is no way to be sure about that. One thing is certain that he was in the area when the operation was on,” said an official.

TRF has been active in Kashmir of late and is said to be responsible for some recent terror attacks, including the one in Handwara, where 5 security personnel, including an Indian Army Colonel and a Major, were killed.

The group is said to be a proxy for Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Taiba and part of a strategy to showcase it as a local Kashmiri outfit, sources said.

With Naikoo killed, the top leadership of Hizbul Mujahideen has been wiped out for the time being. Naikoo was a mathematics teacher-turned-terrorist who joined Hizbul Mujahideen in 2012. Few years later he grew up in the ranks and was appointed the operations commander of the group.

He was responsible for several terror attacks and was a force behind recruitment of youth in terror ranks over the last few years.