J&K police probing photos of men with IS flags ‘in Valley’
Photos released on Nashir, propaganda channel run by IS on Telegram: govt official
A day after a series of photographs of four men posing with the Islamic State (IS) flags were published by the terrorist outfit’s propaganda wing, Amaq, the Jammu and Kashmir Police said they were probing the matter.
The photos, where four men in ‘salwar kameez’ (traditional Indian clothes) are seen posing with a sophisticated weapon and scriptures, were said to have been shot in the Kashmir Valley. The men are seen praying and breaking fast for Iftar (evening meal) in the ongoing month of Ramzan.
A senior J&K police officer said the photos appeared to be “staging a drama” but the police were nevertheless investigating.
Neelesh Purohit, a cyber intelligence professional who first posted the photographs on Twitter on May 6, said this was the second instance when the IS released pictures of their fighters on the Indian soil.
“It appears that the photos are edited and posted from someone in Afghanistan. They have used advanced editing tools,” he said.
A senior government official said the photos were also released on Nashir, a propaganda channel run by the IS on web-based application- Telegram.
“At the outset, the photos appear to have been shot somewhere in the Valley but the location could be in Pakistan occupied Kashmir also. The IS generally floats its propaganda during Ramzan, but there are no regular cadres of IS in Kashmir that we are aware of,” the official said.
From October 2017 to 2018, Al Qaraar, an IS backed social media channel is engaged in a fierce competition with al Qaeda to promote its propaganda regarding the IS’s presence in Kashmir.
An official said Al Qaraar had some arrangement with Amaq.
In May 2019, Amaq announced that the IS had launched a new province-Wilayah of Hind in Kashmir.
Chatter on the Internet
“The IS has lost territory and influence in central Asia and these appear to be desperate means to stay relevant. The flag in the photos released on May 6 is that of the IS, there has been a chatter about this on the Internet, we are yet to find anything concrete,” the official said.
Last year, the Union Home Ministry informed Parliament that “Investigations by the NIA [National Investigaton Agency] have revealed that the IS is most active in Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.”
The Islamic State/ Islamic State of Iraq and Levant/ Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/ Daish/ Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP)/ ISIS Wilayat Khorasan/ Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham-Khorasan (ISIS-K) and all its manifestations have been notified as terrorist organisations and included in the First Schedule to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 by the Central government.