Drawing a link with a militant, Ishfaq Ahmad Sofi, who was killed in an encounter in Shopian on Friday, the Islamic State (IS) has claimed that it has established a “province” in India. The J&K Police rubbished the claim and said Islamic State Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK) has been wiped out and Sofi was its last surviving member.
“This (IS claim) is all rubbish. There is nothing of that sort,” J&K’s Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh told The Sunday Express. “Everybody would like to claim the person killed and put him on their list of martyrs,” he said.
On Friday night, the IS’s Amaq News Agency announced the new province and called it “Wilayah of Hind”. In the same statement, the terror outfit referred to the gunfight between militants and security personnel at Amshipora in Shopian, in which Sofi alias Abdullah Bhai (34) was killed.
“There were only two militants of ISJK,” said a senior police officer. “One of them defected and joined the Hizbul Mujahideen while Sofi was the last member of the outfit. With his death, the terror outfit has been completely wiped out in the Valley”.
The IS identified Sofi as Abu Nader Al Kashmiri. In February, a purported interview of Abu Nader in an unverified magazine called Al Risalah was circulated on social media in Kashmir. In the interview, Sofi said he was from Baramulla district in North Kashmir. His photograph, with the face covered by a gun, was given with the interview.
Police sources said they cannot confirm the authenticity of the magazine or the photograph. “From the face of it, it (magazine) looked like an amateur job,” said a police officer. “It didn’t look like the usual IS magazines, which are well-designed.”
Police said Sofi was arrested in 2016 for his association with the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. After his release in 2018, he went underground and joined the ISJK.
“We don’t see any direct link between the ISJK and Islamic State. It seems that some youths were inspired by their ideology and set up the ISJK,” said the senior police officer.
Last year, a Srinagar student, Ehtisham Bilal, had announced that he had joined the IS suicide squad. He surrendered a few months later.
While the Hizbul Mujahideen and United Jihad Council have said that there is no space for the IS ideology in the state, the joint separatist leadership termed its act as “un-Islamic” after an IS flag was raised inside Jamia Masjid in Srinagar.