SRINAGAR: One of the three suspected militants who were gunned down in an encounter with government forces in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district earlier this week is a 26-year-old man from Telangana state who had gone missing since 2016.

Director General of J&K Police, S P Vaid, said Mohammad Taufeeq, a resident of Manuguru in Telangana, was gunned down in an encounter in the intervening night of March 11 and 12 along with two engineering students who had dropped out of college recently to join militancy.

“He was radicalised into Islamic State ideology through social media and went to Kashmir to participate in the terror activities of ISIS, although he was not wanted in any criminal case in his parent state” Vaid said, quoting inputs from Telangana police and adding that more details are being collected about the case.

Taufeeq was gunned down along with Eisa Fazili and Owais Shafi in Anantnag's Hakoora village. All the three are believed to be ISIS miliants. Eisa and Owais were engineering students at the wakf-funded BGSBS university in Rajouri district before being influenced by the Islamic State ideology.

This is for the first time in nearly a decade that youth from an Indian state has been found associated with militancy in the valley, a troubling development that has sent shockwaves in the security grid of the state battling a renewed phase of insurgency.

In 2008, two suspected militants from Kerala were killed in a gun battle with forces in Kupwara district of north Kashmir who were identified by their aliases as Yasin and Fayaz. According to the police, the duo belonged to Lashkar-e-Toiba militant outfit.

A picture of the Telangana youth was making rounds on social media since the encounter took place which identified him as Abu Zarr Al-Hindi, claiming that he was killed in the Sunday shootout. Sources said Abu Zarr might be his nom de guerre while Al-Hindi means Indian in Arabic.

Although Taufeeq had gone missing from his home in 2016, J&K Police believes he came to Kashmir last year and got affiliated with militancy.

According to sources, Taufeeq was affiliated with the so-called Indian chapter of Al-Qaeda, Ansar Gazwat-ul-Hind, based in Kashmir and headed by Zakir Musa, who parted ways from Hizbul Mujahideen, to join the proscribed outfit.

Although Al-Qaeda or ISIS, as per security agencies, have no presence in the Valley, the latter claimed to have carried out a deadly attack on security forces in Zakura area of Srinagar city on November 17 last year during which a police sub-inspector was killed while a special police officer suffered injuries.

Amaq News Agency, the ISIS propaganda wing, claimed that they carried the attack in Zakura in which a militant, Mugees Ahmed, who was reportedly working with Zakir Musa, was also killed. However, DGP Vaid had expressed serious doubt on ISIS's claim, saying, "It is yet to be verified. I don't think ISIS has any imprints here."