Youth in Kashmir being influenced by IS, say police

Youth in Kashmir being influenced by IS, say police

Dawood, 32, was killed along with three of his associates, Majid Manzoor Dar, Adil Rehman Bhat and Muhamamd Ashraf Itoo. A civilian and a policeman were also killed in the encounter.

For all these months of high-suspense and drama, the police had shied away from admitting to the inroads the ideology of the Islamic State had made in the Kashmir valley. But with the killing of four youngsters in the Srigufwara shootout on Friday in Anantnag, the police for the very first time have conceded that the young in Kashmir were being influenced by the Islamic State.

The state police used its Twitter handle to announce killing of the head of IS for JK, Dawood Ahmed Sofi alias Dawood Salafi and three of his associates in the Srigufwara gunfight. Dawood had taken to arms on November 11, 2015, three days after the killing of his brother Gowhar Nazir Dar, 22, a resident of Mustabad, HMT.  Gowhar was a computer science student at Sir Syed Memorial Institute and was killed by the CRPF men on November 9, 2015, the day Prime Minister Narendera Modi was in Kashmir.

Dawood, 32, was killed along with three of his associates, Majid Manzoor Dar, Adil Rehman Bhat and Muhamamd Ashraf Itoo. A civilian and a policeman were also killed in the encounter.

Barely a few hours after the death of four militants, the website of IS—Amaq— updated its status in Arabic claiming that all the slain militants were its fighters.

The police chief, Shesh Paul Vaid, told Greater Kashmir that all the four militants killed today were first affiliated with the Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen (TuM).  “They were influenced by the social media propaganda launched by the Islamic State as isevident by the confirmation of their allegiance to IS on Amaq, the official website of IS.”

He said the police will check how deep the IS infrastructure was in Kashmir. “So far they have no cadre. We will see whether there is any existing infrastructure of theirs beyond the social media influence,” the J&K police chief said.  Asked whether existence on Kashmir IS’s militancy turf was a challenge for the police, Vaid said: “We will face it and deal with it effectively.”

A senior police officer who didn’t want to be named said they see a proper plan behind the IS existence in Kashmir. “This started from raising flags of IS at the Jamia Masjid after Friday prayers. It was in 2014, when IS flag was first raised by some masked youth outside the grand mosque,” said the official.

The official believes that the sighting of the IS flag in Kashmir was a well-thought out plan to gradually introduce ISIS in Kashmir. “It was a gradual process, and to some extent they succeeded,” he said. “We have pointed out that social media has played a big role as the IS handlers have been luring youth into the fold.”

Zakir Moosa, who broke away from Hizbul Mujahideen and launched Ansar Gazwat-ul-Hind, “a new jihad in Kashmir” in July 2017, has already become a popular name as the youth raise slogans like, “Moosa Moosa, Zakir Moosa”. Some security officials believe that there is a connection between Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen and Ansaar.

Mugees Mir, a TuM militant killed in the Zakoora shootout last year, was the first one who was wrapped in the IS flag. Though the police took that lightly, saying some youth may have used the flag out of their frustration. But when the body of another TuM militant Muhammad Eisa Fazili of the Ahmednagar area of Srinagar was also wrapped in the IS flag, the  police began to pay more attention.

“We, along with the other agencies will have to go deep into the revival process of TuM, which has more or less vanished from the militancy turf in Kashmir,” a police source said. “It looks like that under the garb of TuM, those affiliated with this outfit, are actually trying to establish IS base in Kashmir. IS, is in no way, in the interests of Kashmir and Kashmiris.” 

He said that if it is proven that TuM was actually running IS modules in Kashmir, the move is obviously a big challenge for the forces which can’t be ignored in any way.