Pakistani scholar Maulana Masood Azhar is one of the most wanted men in India but do you know who he is? Why was he jailed in India and how he was freed?
This biography and profile of Maulana Masood Azhar will reveal his early life as young child in Bahawalpur who grew up to fight Indian aggression in Kashmir.
The exact date of birth is not known but it is claimed that Masood Azhar was born in 1968. His father Allah Bakhsh Shabbir was a headmaster in a government run school.
He was among 11 siblings from which 5 were brothers and 6 were sisters. It is said that the family was well off with their own dairy & poultry farm.
As a child Masood Azhar was enrolled in a school from where he completed his studies till class 8 after which he pursued religious education from Jamia Uloom Islamic School, Banuri Town Karachi.
After graduation he became a scholar and starting teaching in the same Islamic institute. It was during Afghan-Soviet war and the school was the first base for foreign fighters who were arriving in Karachi, especially from western countries and Arab world.
Affiliation with Harkat-ul-Ansar:
During his studies and then teaching in the institute he became affiliated with Harkat-ul-Ansar which was supporting the Kashmiri rebels in fighting Indian occupied forces. His affiliation is said to be more with preaching and the monthly magazine than training and fighting in Indian Occupied Kashmir.
Arrest in India:
In 1994 Harkat-ul-Ansar became divided in factions in Jammu & Kashmir which was under Indian occupation. Maulana Masood Azhar was sent to Srinagar to make peace between Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, factions of Ansar.
It was during his stay in Khanabal that he was arrested by Indian armed forces. It is said he was interrogated by FBI officials along with Indian agencies.
Hijack of Indian Airlines Flight 814:
In 1999 Indian Airlines Flight 814 was travelling from Kathmandu (Nepal) to New Delhi (India) when it was hijacked.
The aircraft landed in Amritsar but during the landing the hijackers felt suspicious of operation by Indian forces. The plane was diverted to Pakistani city Lahore from where it refueled and landed in Dubai (UAE) where 27 passengers were released and headed towards Kandahar, Afghanistan.
After negotiations Indian government released 3 prisoners including Maulana Masood Azhar to ensure release of Indian passengers.
Masood Azhar in Pakistan:
Soon after his landing in Afghanistan he headed towards Karachi where he made a public address reassuring his commitment to the cause of Kashmir.
It is said that Jaish was formed in early 2000 with mostly supporters and members from Harkat-ul-Ansar. Within months it started militant activities against Indian forces in occupied Kashmir.
But after 9/11 Pakistani government allied with USA in ‘War against Terrorism’ under which General Musharraf banned JeM which re-emerged with different names during different governments but was never able to become public again.
Despite the ban JeM leader built mosques in different cities of Pakistan including his hometown Bahawalpur where JeM headquarter was located.
Jamia Masjid Subhan Allah was considered the head quarter of JeM where fighters were motivated to support the struggle of Kashmiri people.
Many prominent attacks in Indian are thought to be the work of JeM such as the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Pathankot air base attack & Uri attacks in 2016. India also claimed that JeM was behind the 2019 Pulwama attack which is considered the deadliest attack on Indian forces
He has written multiple books and booklets on the topic of Jihad. His video and audio lectures or bayans are very popular among those who support the independence struggle of Kashmiri people.
It is said that he is married but details about his wife, sons & daughters are not known. His brothers are said to be part of JeM including Abdul Rauf Asghar.