Masood Azhar has been unable to move for months, according to reports (Image: File)
Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar is mostly confined to one place due to his deteriorating health. His brother Abdul Rauf Asghar has taken over the day to day operations of the terror outfit, according to a report. According to reports, Masood Azhar is suffering from renal failure and has been bed-ridden for months.
"Masood Azhar is too unwell to oversee day-to-day operations of Jaish-e-Mohammed. His confinement to a well-guarded Jaish facility in Bahawalpur is possibly linked to his serious medical condition and the need to ensure his security in the aftermath of the IAF airstrikes on Jaish terror camp in Balakot in February," an intelligence functionary was quoted by Time of India as saying.
Azhar was said to be in protective custody of Pakistani agencies after Indian Air Force (IAF) conducted airstrikes on JeM's training camp near Balakot. However, recent reports have suggested that he has been released as Pakistan is planning to use Jaish for terror attacks against India.
But Masood Azhar is not likely to be part of the operations side of these plot. Masood Azhar is considered to be a motivator for Jaish who could turn “jihadi” recruits into committed fidayeen with his fiery sermons.
In Azhar's absence, his brother Abdul Rauf Asghar is supervising operations of JeM. Asghar was the architect of the IC-814 hijacking which had secured the release of Masood Azhar and other terrorists, has been involved in operations of JeM since its inception.
"Asghar is the real man to watch out for," an officer of the Indian security establishment was quoted as saying in the report. "He meets other Jaish functionaries regularly to plan terror manoeuvres. In fact, recent reports indicate that he has been instructed by ISI to escalate Jaish activities in J&K and beyond in view of abrogation of Article 370."
Azhar is accused of several deadly terrorist attacks in India, including one on the Pathankot airbase in 2016. Abdul Rauf Azhar was reported to have taken over command of the Jaish-e-Mohammed in 2007, when Azhar went underground. On December 2, 2010, the United States Treasury designated Azhor a terrorist.