Terror mastermind Masood Azhar is not in jail but at the sprawling headquarters of the Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pakistan’s Bahawalpur despite Islamabad’s claims of arresting him, government sources say. Masood Azhar’s last location, according to sources, was the Markaz Subhanallah, the headquarters of the terror group located in Bahawalpur.
The Jaish chief’s health has improved but he avoids coming out and delivering sermons, sources say, given Pakistan’s claims to the world community about a crackdown on terrorists operating from its soil. Despite overwhelming proof of Pakistan giving shelter to terrorists, and training, arming and sending them to Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Imran Khan has denied it.
Masood Azhar, whose terror outfit claimed responsibility for the February Pulwama attack in which over 40 soldiers were killed, was designated a terrorist in May by the UN after China, Pakistan’s all-weather ally, lifted its technical hold on the proposal by the US, the UK and France to list him.
Markaz Subhanallah, which means “centre for praising God”, is described by reports as a massive building complex with modern amenities. It is said to host meetings of top Jaish terrorists. Besides Masood Azhar, his brothers and other relatives are believed to be staying in the complex.
Masood Azhar’s location and status is in focus because of reports that Pakistan is giving terror organisations like Jaish a long rope amid tension with India over the government’s decision to end special status to Jammu and Kashmir, which, New Delhi has asserted repeatedly, is an internal matter.
The Indian Navy had recently talked about inputs that Pakistani commandos were prepping to infiltrate into Indian waters through the Kutchh area and use the sea route to try and incite communal trouble or carry out a terror attack in Gujarat. Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh had cited intelligence reports that the Jaish was training members for underwater attacks and had said the military was fully prepared to foil such attempts.
National Security Adviser Ajit Doval said on Saturday that more than 200 terrorists were trying to cross into India from Pakistan and Islamabad was trying to stoke violence in the region. “About 230 terrorists are ready to infiltrate into different parts of Kashmir,” Mr Doval told reporters.
The number is based on radio intercepts and intelligence from the ground, military officials said, adding that some terrorists had already been caught by security forces.
“A large number of weapons are being smuggled and people in Kashmir are being told to create trouble,” said Mr Doval, who is considered one of the architects of the policy to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
Azhar is wanted in India for several attacks including the 26/11 Mumbai terror. Last week, the government declared Azhar a terrorist after the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) was amended to declared individuals as terrorists too, not just organisations.
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