Security agencies are not ruling out the possibility of the banned ISIS trying to create a base in the Kashmir Valley, noting that internet chats and establishing of contacts with possible handlers in Syria and Iraq by some youths have grown in the last six months. Officials in the security establishment, who are not authorised to speak to the media, said on condition of anonymity that there have been small pockets in the Valley from where some youths are trying to get in touch with one or more handlers in Syria and Iraq.
Last month, two masked gunmen appeared at the grave of a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist in Pulwama during which they asked the gathering to follow the rules laid down by Taliban and ISIS and not support or raise slogans in favour of Pakistan.
They gave fiery speeches for over three minutes in which they spoke about pan-Islamisation and the importance of having Shariat as a law, the officials said.
While militant outfits including United Jehad Council, a conglomerate of terror outfits based out of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, as well as the local unit of Hizbul Mujahideen were quick to downplay the incident, security officials viewed it with more seriousness.
The agencies felt if the growing influence of ISIS was not checked, it could be detrimental to the situation in the Valley.
The officials said that the activities on the internet from the Valley to some accounts in Syria and Iraq have been tracked during last one year.
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In 2014, 2015 and early 2016, there were few stray cases whichi had been noticed. But beginning this year, after a comprehensie monitoring system was placed to track such chats, over a 100 users were found to be conversing with possible handlers in the two foreign countries.
There was no pinpointed information about the users other than the general areas of some villages in South Kashmir, Sopore in North Kashmir, Prang and Lar in Central Kashmir as well as Reasi, Kishtawar and Doda areas of Jammu region, they said.
During the recent protests across the Valley, ISIS flags were waived in certain areas and even walls in some were splattered with slogans supporting the banned terror outfit.
Army has also been worried about the growing influence of the ISIS ideology on the youth of the Valley and a study done last year showed that six out of 10 youths were watching videos of controversial Islamic preacher Zaki Naik or other jehadi videos.