Days after Jaish-e-Mohammad orchestrated the deadliest terror strike in Jammu & Kashmir killing at least 40 CRPF personnel, a former police officer who interrogated its chief Maulana Masood Azhar said that he was an “easy man” to handle. Azhar got shaken up on the first “slap” from an army officer prompting him to blurt out details of his movements, PTI quoted former Director General of Sikkim Police Avinash Mohananey as saying.
“He was an easy man to handle and a slap from an army officer had shaken him completely,” Mohananey, who interrogated Azhar many a time during his two-decade tenure in the Intelligence Bureau, told PTI. Azhar was initially caught in the valley in 1994 at a time when India was still trying to understand the proxy war launched by Pakistan’s ISI in Kashmir.
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The former DG, who was then heading the Kashmir desk of Intelligence Bureau, said that Azhar had then shared critical information about the recruitment process, and functioning of the group in the valley. “There were several occasions when I met him in Kot Balwal jail and interrogated him for hours together. We did not have to use any coercive method as information flowed consistently from him,” Mohananey was quoted as saying by PTI. Apart from the recruitment process, Azhar also revealed information regarding the merger of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami (HuJI) into Harkat-ul-Ansar, represented by him as its general secretary.
Azhar had arrived in India on a Portuguese passport from Bangladesh in 1994, and travelled to Saharanpur before reaching Kashmir where he held meetings of warring factions of HuM and HuJI to formulate a common policy, Mohananey said. “I came on a forged Portuguese passport for ensuring that HuM and HuJI are together in the valley. It was not possible for me to cross the Line of Control on foot,” the police officer recalled Azhar telling them.
Azhar was released in exchange for the IC-814 flight, which was hijacked by terrorists in 1999, after which he went on to found JeM which has executed some of the deadliest attacks on Indian soil. JeM was behind the attacks on Parliament, Pathankot air base, Uri army base among many. Its recent attack graduated to a new level with a suicide bomber blowing himself up on the Jammu-Srinagar highway by ramming his explosive-laden vehicle in a bus ferrying CRPF personnel.
India has been pushing for action against Azhar on international platforms, however, its efforts have been blocked by China, a close ally of Pakistan where Azhar roams scot free.