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Interpol issues Red Corner notices to Pakistani Masood Azhar over Pulwama blasts

Jaish-e-Mohammad founder Maulana Masood Azhar

After two years of  the Pulwama attack, Interpol has finally issued a Red Corner Notice to the main accused– Jaish e Mohammad (JeM) supremo Masood Azhar and three of his relatives, according to sources.

On February 14, 2019, in a brazen terror attack a 22-year-old suicide bomber had rammed an IED-laden vehicle into a security convoy killing 40 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) at Pulwama on the Jammu-Kashmir national highway. 

Apart from Azhar, red corner notices, or global arrest warrants, have been issued against his brothers Abdul Rauf Asghar and Ibrahim Athar, and his cousin Ammar Alvi. India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the case, wants Pakistan to take action against these culprits.

Marking the day on the anniversary of the bloody attack, Union Home Minister Amit Shah paid tribute to the brave soldiers and said the country will never forget their sacrifices. “I bow down to the brave martyrs who lost their lives in the gruesome Pulwama attack on this day in 2019. India will never forget their exceptional courage and supreme sacrifice,” he tweeted.

The NIA had asked Interpol to issue Red Corner Notices. According to the charge sheet filed by the NIA, Pakistan used Adil Ahmad Dar, a local resident who rammed an explosive-laden car into a CRPF convoy in Pulwama, as a suicide bomber to project the attack as a result of a home-grown militancy.

UN-designated global terrorist and JeM founder Maulana Masood Azhar and his younger brother, Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar, have been named as primary accused in the charge sheet, sources said. Seven alleged JeM operatives arrested from Kashmir , Mohammad Abbas Rather, Tariq Ahmad Shah, Mohammad Iqbal Rather, Shakir Bashir Magrey, Waiz-ul-Islam, Insha Jan, and Bilal Ahmed Kuchey  were named for actively playing a part in the attack.

India had then responded decisively in the early hours of February 26 when Indian Air Force fighter jets bombed Pakistan's terror camps in Balakot in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

The RCNs against Masood Azhar and his brother Abdul Rauf were issued after the NIA secured an ‘open-ended’ non-bailable warrant against them for conspiring to carry out the Pathankot terror strike.

An RCN is already pending against 55-year-old Azhar for his involvement in the conspiracy in the attacks on Parliament House and the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly. A similar warrant is pending against 47-year-old Rauf in connection with the 1999 hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 to Kandahar.

Despite being globally designated wanted terrorists and three Interpol red notices pending against them, Masood and his brothers have been roaming freely in Pakistan. It was pressure from FATF, the global watchdog against terror financing, that a Pakistan court issued an arrest warrant against Masood Azhar last month.

Pakistan finally acknowledged Azhar’s presence in the country which it had been denying for long. But there is no evidence that the Pakistani authorities are planning any action, not even cosmetic, against Azhar and his accomplices.

In fact Pakistan has been ramping  up its 'deception game' as the FATF deadline approaches till February. Pakistan has been on the ‘Grey list” of the FATF since June 2018.  Since then Pakistan has been following some deceptive steps to get out of the FATF watch list, and prevent itself from sliding into the 'black list'.