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DGP raises ISIS flag and then pulls it down

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After ISIS owns Soura attack…

MHA too downplays IS presence in Kashmir

Srinagar/New Delhi: A day after Islamic terror group ISIS claimed responsibility for the killing of a policeman in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, the state police, in a first, admitted that the group has a presence in the Valley.

State police chief SP Vaid told NDTV that while the presence was not “substantial”, it was “indeed a worrying sign, because ISIS foothold in Kashmir will have a different meaning”.

A’maq, the propaganda publicity wing of ISIS, claimed on Monday that the group carried out the attack on police constable Farooq Ahmad and “a war has just begun”.

Earlier, the global terror group had made several claims about having a hand in attacks in the valley. ISIS flags have surfaced in the valley from time to time, especially at the funeral of dead militants. When the funeral of dead militant Mugeeb was carried out in mid-November, his body was wrapped in ISIS flag.

In November, the ISIS claimed that it carried out an attack on the Jammu and Kashmir police at Zakura on the outskirts of Srinagar, in which a police officer and an attacker were killed. But the police had dismissed it as A’maq propaganda.

Today, Vaid told NDTV that it is now clear that attack too, was carried out by ISIS and they were wrong to deny it. In the latest case, he said, the police knows the identity of the attacker and were on his trail.

The officer, however, said, “There doesn’t seem to be any substantial presence of ISIS”. The attacks, he said, could have been carried out by a lone wolf or a few people driven by ISIS ideology.

For the police, the real worry, Vaid said, was the cost innocent people have to pay. “I only wish it doesn’t happen in Kashmir. I am sure with the cooperation of people, we will not allow another Syria or Iraq in Kashmir,” he said.

Later, the DGP said that there are no visible signs of ISIS presence in Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir.

Admitting that it was a matter of concern, the Director General of Police (DGP) said the outfit’s claim would be verified.

“The ISIS 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 was quoted as saying by 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 police chief said that as of now, there was nothing visible on ground suggesting a major ISIS presence in Kashmir.

Vaid said that some boys may have got influenced by “ISIS propaganda on social media like Zakir Musa was attracted to Al-Qaeda”.

Meanwhile, the Centre today sought to downplay the issue of presence of Islamic State (IS) militant group 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 Home Ministry spokesperson said here.

The central government’s assertion came after the group claimed responsibility for the killing of a policeman, Farooq Ahmad Yatoo, in Srinagar on Sunday.

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

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