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MHA, top cop rule out presence of IS in Kashmir

February 27, 2018 19:47 IST

The Centre on Tuesday sought to downplay the issue of presence of dreaded terror group Islamic State in Jammu and Kashmir saying it has no existence in the Valley.

"There is no physical infrastructure or manpower of the IS in the Valley. It does not exist in the Valley," a Union home ministry spokesperson said in New Delhi.

The central government's assertion came after the terrorist group claimed responsibility for the killing of a policeman, Farooq Ahmad Yatoo, in Jammu-Kashmir on Sunday.

 

Jammu and Kashmir police chief S P Vaid said that there are no visible signs of IS presence in Kashmir, even as a possibility does exist of it carrying out a lone wolf kind of attack.

Admitting that it was a matter of concern, the Director General of Police said the terror outfit's claim would be verified.

Amaq and Al-Qarar, the propaganda wings of the notorious IS, claimed the terror outfit was responsible for the killing of Constable Farooq Ahmad in Srinagar and warned that a 'war' had just begun.

Ahmad was killed and the assailants decamped with his service rifle.

"The IS has claimed on its website Al-Qarar, that they are here (in Kashmir). This needs to be verified on the ground. It is matter of worry," Vaid told PTI.

The police will probe and verify the claim, the DGP said.

They have not only claimed the killing of the policeman but have shown the weapon as well, he said.

"They had also made a claim in November last year. This needs ground verification. There is an element (of suspicion) in it," Vaid said.

The Jammu and Kashmir police chief said that as of now, there was nothing visible on ground suggesting a major IS presence in Kashmir.

"Although there are no visible signs on the ground, but there could be a lone wolf type of attack.There is possibility (of its presence)", he said.

Vaid said that some may have got influenced by IS propaganda on social media like Zakir Musa was attracted to Al Qaeda.

Another official said Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Tayiba could be behind the attack on the policeman, and Esha Fazali, a local terrorist who first joined the Hizbul Mujahideen and later shifted his allegiance to LeT, has emerged as the prime suspect.

In November 2017, there were reports that the global terror organisation was involved in an encounter with security forces in Srinagar where a terrorist, identified as Mugees, was killed and a sub-inspector, Imran Tak, lost his life.

Pictures of Mugees with an IS flag in the background surfaced on social media. Even his body was wrapped in the flag of the banned terror group during the funeral.

However, security officials had then claimed that Mugees belonged to an extremist group called Tehrik-ul-Mujahideen and was its Pulwama district commander.

The Tehrik-ul-Mujahideen was among the first few terror groups that emerged at the onset of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir in the early 1990s.

However, police have found no logistical connection between the two, another official said.

The cadre strength of the group is very small and it has been facing an extreme shortage of weapons, officials said.

The Tehrik-Ul-Mujahideen was founded much before the Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen came into existence, they said.

After the killing of Mujees, Adil Ahmed has been appointed the group's commander in Pulwama district.

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