File picture of Masood Azhar from the year 2000. (Source: AP/PTI)

India Says Masood Azhar’s Brother’s ‘Arrest’ In Pakistan Could Be Ploy

Indian security agencies were unmoved by reports of arrest of 44 members of the Jaish-e-Mohammad in Pakistan, with officials saying the terrorists were not arrested under the anti-terrorism laws but have only been taken in “preventive detention for investigation”.

The 44 members of Jaish-e-Mohammad, including its founder Masood Azhar’s brother Mufti Abdul Rauf, were said to have been taken in “preventive detention for investigation” and have not been arrested under Pakistan’s anti-terrorism law, a security official said.

Similar actions by the neighbouring country against leaders of the proscribed outfits in the past turned out to be farce as those who were taken into custody were let off soon on different pretexts.

There is every possibility that the detention could also be an attempt by the Pakistan Army to provide security to these terrorists, given the “fear psychosis” that has gripped Pakistan in the past few days following the Indian Air Force strike at Balakot, the official said.

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The assessment of the security agencies came in view of the fact that founders of Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba—Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed, respectively—were detained several times in the past, mostly under laws that provide for detention for apprehension of “breach of peace”.

Azhar and Saeed have never been prosecuted under the Pakistan’s Anti Terrorism Act, 1997, another official said.

According to the reports received from Pakistan, the action against Jaish-e-Mohammad came in order to implement the National Action Plan of Pakistan amid mounting pressure from the global community on Islamabad to rein in the terror groups operating from its soil.

A high-level meeting was held in Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior on Monday and it was attended by representatives of all provincial governments of that country.

“It was decided to speed up action against all proscribed organisations. In compliance, 44 under-observation members of the proscribed organisations, including Mufti Abdul Rauf and Hamad Azhar, have been taken in preventive detention for investigation,” an official said quoting the Pakistan government’s order. “These actions will continue as per the decisions taken in the National Security Committee while reviewing the National Action Plan.”

Pakistan’s Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi said at a press conference in Islamabad that Rauf and Hamad Azhar are among 44 people arrested during the crackdown.

Afridi said a dossier shared by India with Pakistan last week also contained names of Rauf and Azhar.

The crackdown on banned groups came amid tensions with India following a suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Feb. 14 by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group that killed 40 CRPF soldiers.

India handed over a dossier to Pakistan to take action against the Jaish-e-Mohammed, as pressure mounted on Islamabad to take action against individual and organisation listed by the UN Security Council as terrorists.

The minister, however, said the action was not taken due to any pressure. He said action would be taken against all proscribed organisations under the National Action Plan.

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