Is Masood Azhar dead? Twitter sure seems to think so. Several unverified reports of the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief and terrorist getting killed in the bombardment by Indian Air Force on a terror camp in Balakot are going viral. Twitterati are also using the hashtag #MasoodAzharDead to state the same.
There was no confirmation from any authoritative sources. Intelligence agencies were trying to ascertain the death claims on social media, reported PTI.
Local media reports from Pakistan alleged that Azhar got seriously injured in the air strike and died in a hospital. Pakistan has not issued any formal announcement.
Recently, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi accepted on CNN that Masood Azhar was in Pakistan and that he was not well but said the government can act against him only if India presents “solid” and “inalienable” evidence that can stand in a court of law. “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 said.
Another report from Islamabad said the JeM founder was undergoing dialysis in a Pakistan army hospital.
Amid growing pressure to show the damage caused by IAF's precision bombing on the Jaish-e-Mohammed training facility, India is contemplating releasing evidence in the days to come to silence those doubting the impact. The IAF had declared that disclosing proof of the air strike impact was a call to be taken by the government even though electronic evidence gathered by radar images was sufficient to establish the damage caused to the structures.
Though there was no credible confirmation about the number of casualties, and Pakistani establishment remaining in denial mode, a video clip of Masood Azhar's brother Maulana Ammar had surfaced on Saturday where he can be heard accepting that the Balakot camp had taken a hit. The recording is said to be from a public function organized in Peshawar after the air strike.
Jaish’s Balakot camp, where training was imparted to recruits to carry out suicide attacks, was targeted by the IAF in an air strike last week, following the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
The 50-year-old Azhar, who was released by the NDA government in 1999 in exchange of hostages of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814, 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.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)