Srinagar: 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".
- In a first, J&K police admit ISIS has presence in Kashmir valley
- J&K police chief to NDTV: "It is indeed a worrying sign"
- ISIS claimed responsibility for killing a policeman in Srinagar on Monday
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 terrorists. When the funeral of dead militant Mugeeb was carried out in mid-November, his body was wrapped in ISIS flag.
But the authorities had brushed away the claims of ISIS presence in the Valley. The Central government too, had denied any ISIS presence in the country. Investigators said there were just isolated instances of people getting indoctrinated by watching the radical speeches of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi online.
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, Mr 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.
Lone wolf attacks have become increasingly frequent, especially in Europe. In most cases, indoctrinated individuals had carried out solo attacks on large groups of people. The most prominent example was the July 2016 attack in Nice, France, where a man had driven a huge cargo truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day. ISIS had claimed responsibility for the attack, in which 86 people were killed.
For the police, the real worry, Mr 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.