New Delhi: As soon the reports of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief’s Masood Azhar death surfaced on social media on Sunday, the Pakistan based terror outfit released a statement saying,”The dreaded terrorist is alive and doing well.
Besides JeM, Pakistan’s Geo Urdu News also dismissed the news of Azhar’s death and said that reports claiming JeM leader is dead are false. Quoting unnamed sources close to the family of the terrorist, the channel said ‘Azhar is alive’, without elaborating on his health condition. (Also Read: JeM Not Involved in Pulwama Attack, Reiterates Pakistan FM; India Firm on ‘no Dialogue’ Stand)
However, there was no official word on Azhar’s death from the Pakistan government. “I don’t know anything at this moment,” Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told PTI, when asked about media reports claiming death of Azhar.
Intelligence officials in New Delhi also said that they had no information about his (Azhar) death other than that the terrorist was undergoing treatment at an army hospital in Pakistan after suffering renal failure. “The social media was filled with his death reports, but there was no confirmation as of now”, the officials told news agency PTI.
Earlier in the day, the social media was filled with reports that Azhar, who was released by the NDA government in 1999 in exchange of hostages of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814, had died on March 2 at a military hospital in Rawalpindi.
The death reports of Azhar came days after JeM’s terror camps (where training was imparted to recruits to carry out suicide attacks) was targeted by the Indian Air Force in an air strike on February 26, in a bid to avenge the deadly Pulwama terror attack that claimed lives of CRPF personnel. The government had also claimed that it achieved a spectacular success by destroying the facility.
Speaking to news channel CNN, Pak Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had also admitted that the JeM chief was in Pakistan and was “very unwell”. “He is in Pakistan, according to my information. He is unwell to the extent that he can’t leave his house, because he’s really unwell,” Qureshi stated.
Who is Masood Azhar?
A resident of Bahawalpur in Pakistan’s Punjab province, Azhar formed the Jaish-e-Mohammed in 2000. 50-year-old Azhar has been accused of being the mastermind of the 2001 Parliament attack, suicide attack on Jammu and Kashmir state assembly, attack on Pathankot IAF base and the latest Pulwama terror strike.