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Islamic State claims India foothold

But critics say only a small number of poorly trained locals have joined the international terror outfit

ucanews.com reporter, New Delhi

ucanews.com reporter, New Delhi

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Islamic State claims India foothold

A file image of Kashmiri youths waving Pakistan national flags and Islamic State (IS) group flags during clashes between protesters and Indian government forces in Srinagar on June 16, 2018. (Photo by Tauseef Mustafa/AFP)

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Global terror group the so-called Islamic State (IS) claims to have created a "province" in India as well as inflicting causalities on the Indian army while aiding local Muslim insurgents in the northern Kashmir region.

Jammu and Kashmir is India's only Muslim-majority state.

However, with some 170 million followers of the Islamic faith, India has the world's third largest Muslim population after Indonesia and Pakistan.

IS's propaganda wing, the Amaq News Agency, earlier this month announced the establishment of its 'Wilayah of Hind', or province, in India.

It did not specify a geographical base for the self-proclaimed province.

Muslim scholars say the word 'Hind' in ancient Islamic literature denoted a vast area covering part of Afghanistan across to what is now Bangladesh.

The international News agency Reuters, in a May 11 report, quoted Rita Katz, director of the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, as saying jihadists were seeking to rebuild a caliphate after having been driven out of Iraq and Syria.

However, an anonymous police official told ucanews.com that IS's claimed new foothold in Kashmir was a case of "misplaced euphoria."

He said only "a handful" of poorly armed and trained militants from existing groups had pledged allegiance to IS.

Others believe that declaring the new IS province was part of a wider effort to recruit disgruntled Muslim youth, particularly in Kashmir.

"A majority of Muslims in general, particularly in South Asia, reject the brand of Islam that IS propagates,” said Owias Ahmad, a student of Islamic Studies at Kashmir University.

However, some young people were "attracted" to the militant outfit because they felt frustrated over repressive Indian rule in the Kashmir region.

Ahmad said young Muslims continue to witness Hindu hardliners targeting their places of worship and launching unprovoked attacks on adherents of the Islamic faith. They also accuse the Indian armed forces of using excessive force against non-combatants.

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