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ISIS and Kashmir

Islamic States’ (IS) claim that its cadres killed a policeman and decamped with his service rifle in Srinagar has generated a debate on the outfit’s presence in Kashmir. This is for the second time that IS claimed to have carried out a militant strike in the valley. Earlier, in November last year, IS claimed that one of its cadres Mughees Ahmad Mir, a resident of Srinagar’s Parimpora locality, was killed in encounter with police at Zakoora suburbs of the capital city. One police officer had also got killed in this encounter. The latest to fall the IS bullets (as claimed by the group) was a policeman guarding the house of a Hurriyat leader Fazlul Haque Quraishi at Soura. Indian home ministry, however, has outright rejected the presence of IS cadres in the valley. “There is no physical infrastructure or manpower of the IS in the Valley. It does not exist in the Valley, said a home ministry spokesperson on Tuesday. Notwithstanding the home ministry claim, some sections in and outside the government find it an alarming trend. There is no denying the fact that the ISIS, after its defeat in Iraq has been trying to make its foothold in south Asia, mainly Afghanistan. The outfit has, in the past, claimed that Kashmir was also on its jihad-map and as things stand now the outfit, despite claims, has failed to get the required support at the grass root level. It is for this fact the Director General of Police “although there are no visible signs on the ground, but there could be a lone wolf type of attack”. Indian media and military establishment have been giving a shoehorning perception about Kashmiri youth. They are being associated with global narrative of Islamic threat and culture clash. This debate has been generated by a new breed of educated youth who have in recent times joined militant ranks. The recent statements by Hizbul Mujahideen commander Zakir Musa only added grist to this propaganda mill that the ongoing trouble in Kashmir is extension of international Jihad guided by outfits like ISIS and Alqaeda. His threat to chop off Hurriyat leaders’ heads should they try to secularize the movement, though, came as a serious shock in Kashmir but it provided the required material to the anti Kashmir lobby in and outside Kashmir. Hizb chief Syed Salahuddin, in no uncertain terms, rejected ISIS and Alqaeda perception of the movement and Islam, and described it as an “Indian attempt to link Kashmir freedom struggle with international Jihad”. A recent claim by Zakir Musa that a Hurriyat activist, Yousuf Nadeem, was killed by his cadres in Budgam demonstrates that everything is not hunky-dory. The reports of another militant Esa Fazili, who is stated to be behind the killing of policeman guarding Hurriyat leader’s house, is just another addition to perceptions of international militant organizations making their way in Kashmir. While Musa is linked to Al-Qauedah, Esa is termed as IS man. However, the public reactions with regard to Al-Qaedah and IS give a different picture. Some months back when a section of participants raised slogans in favor if Zakir Musa during the funeral procession of Lashkar Roiba commander Waseem Shah at Heffshirmal in Shopian, his father, and several others, asked them not to raise such slogans. “We know only two tanzeems—Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar. Don’t shout any other slogan”, they were told. After that few people were heard raising any such slogan during funeral processions of slain militants, though people in thousands attended those processions. ISIS or Al-Qaeda is an idea. These groups don’t need to come physically to set up their bases in any area. It is also true that a section of young-Muslim all over the world is influenced (rightly or wrongly) by this idea. Some feeble voices from a few Face Book ‘Jihadis’ and some banner-raising incidents in Srinagar give impression that Kashmir too has its share of ISIS effects . However a keen study would make one believe that this idea has no social and political acceptability here. Even the extremist sections in the religious camp abhor the ISIS’s idea of Islam. Syed Ali Geelani, Syed Salahuddin, even Lashkar commanders and leaders have never supported the idea of Al-Qaedha or IS. Barring, lonely voice of Zakir Musa, Kashmiri militants have never stepped beyond their pronounced position of ‘fighting for right of self-determination’—the right acknowledged and accepted by the United States. In this context, the ISI claim is far from the fact.