Even as the issue of ‘Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’ continuing for decades and proving costly for India in many aspects, Islamic State (IS) has claimed for the first time that it has established a ‘province’ in India, after a clash between militants and security forces in the Kashmir region killed a militant with alleged ties to the group. According to the terror outfit’s broadcast channel, Amaq News, their territory in India is called ‘Wilayah of Hind’. It also claimed to have inflicted casualties upon Indian forces in the recent clash in Amshipora, a town in that State.
The ISIL statement corresponded with an Indian police statement that an armed rebel called Ishfaq Ahmad Sofi was killed in an encounter in Shopian. According to Al Jazeera, ISIL’s statement establishing the new province appeared to be designed to bolster its standing after the group was driven from its self-styled ‘caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria in April, where, at one point, it controlled thousands of miles of territory. Meanwhile, intelligence agencies and the Director General of Jammu Kashmir Police, Dilbagh Singh, said the terrorist who died wasn’t from ISIS but from an ‘IS-inspired’ group.
In April, ISIS released a video showing its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, claiming responsibility for the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka that killed over 250 people. The video ‘sought to emphasise the international nature of the struggle’ following the group losing its self-styled ‘caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria, wrote Nicolas Hénin, a former ISIS hostage and author of Jihad Academy: The Rise of Islamic State, in the Guardian. ISIS likely sees Jammu and Kashmir, with its long-simmering Muslim-Hindu tensions, as promising territory. Hence, the Indian government should nip such attempts in the bud itself.