While the police have in the past ruled out the presence of the Islamic State (IS) in Kashmir, the global terror outfit’s mouthpiece has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack in which a policeman guarding the residence of Hurriyat leader Fazal Haq Qureshi was killed.
The incident took place in Soura area of Srinagar, and militants escaped with the slain policeman’s rifle.
“Assassinated an element of police in firing near city of Srinagar in Kashmir yesterday,” Al Amaq News Agency of the IS has claimed.
This is the second time in three months that the IS has claimed responsibility for an attack on policemen in Srinagar.
Sources in J&K Police said eyewitness accounts hint towards the role of a recent militant recruit, Esa Fazili. “There were apprehensions that Esa may have links with the Islamic State,” a senior police officer privy to probe details said. “Yesterday’s incident, and the IS claim, has given credence to such reports.”
Sources said responsibility for the attack was first taken by the IS on a Telegram channel ‘Kashmir Villayah’.
The Indian Express had earlier reported that the state police had found a few closed Telegram channels of the IS in Kashmir.
A resident of Soura, Esa Fazili was studying engineering at Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah (BGSB) University in Rajouri before joining the militant ranks in August last year, sources said. They said Fazili had initially joined the Zakir Musa-led group of militants but when Zakir announced setting up Ansar Ghazwatul Hind, an Al Qaeda affiliate, in Kashmir, Fazili had differences, as he was more inclined towards the Islamic State.
In November last year, Al Amaq had claimed that the IS had carried out an attack in Zakura, on Srinagar’s outskirts, in which a policeman and a militant had been killed. The agency, however, had said that a Pakistani policeman was killed in the attack, raising doubts about its claim. The channel ‘Al-Qaraar’, investigation has found, also claimed that Srinagar militant Mugees Ahmad Mir, who was killed on November 17 last year in an encounter with the police, was the first militant of the terror outfit.