ebruary 26 was a big day; since Pulwama terror attack, the nation was not only in shock but they were angry over the loss of the lives our jawans. The Indian Air Force carried out air strikes on the biggest camp of the terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in Balakot and there was a sense of satisfaction in people’s mind. The air strikes were pre-emptive and the Indian Air Force struck down the largest JeM training camp. Indian Air Force’s (IAF) 12 Mirage 2000 jets bombed several terror camps across LoC and completely destroyed it. The fighter jets dropped 1,000-kilogram bombs on the terror camps at 3.30 am, when India and Pakistan both were in deep sleep.
Credible intelligence was received that the JeM was attempting other suicide attacks in various parts of our country and the fidayeen terrorists were being trained for this purpose. In the face of the forthcoming threat, a preventive strike became absolutely necessary. In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders, and groups of jihadis who have been trained for fidayeen action were eliminated.
Jaish camp targeted by India was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar, IC-814 Hijacker. Maulana Yousuf Azhar is believed to be one of the hijackers of Indian Airlines Airbus IC-814 in December 1999, which led to the release of Masood Azhar and two other terrorists after a seven-day crisis. Maulana Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghauri is the brother-in-law of JeM Chief Masood Azhar. Soon after this attack, there was a war on Twitter in India and Pakistan handles. Imran Khan passed a statement stating that they have the right to retaliate and safeguard their country. He feels that PM Modi finds the need to indulge in some misadventure because of impending elections. Pak also said that India’s electoral results off late had made the government want to do something for votes and ‘what better than Pakistan bashing’, says Pak. It further stated that they had informed the foreign dignitaries about this possible action by the Modi government and PM Imran Khan wants the civilians and armed forces to be prepared for all circumstances. In nutshell, Pakistan is getting ready for a counter-attack.
After Pulwama attack on February 14, some section of Indian media and the opposition leaders like Mamata Banerjee and Raj Thackeray accused PM Modi of such incidences. This is the first time that Mamata Banerjee has directly blamed the Prime Minister for the Pulwama attack. She said that despite knowing that a militant attack was about to take place, PM Modi did not try to prevent it in Pulwama. Rather, these leaders unanimously questioned the integrity of the PM believing that the attack was not prevented because the counter-attack can garner some votes for the BJP in the forthcoming elections. She also accused BJP of instigating Hindus against the Muslims. The air strikes come 12 days after killing of CRPF personnel in a suicide terror attack in Pulwama. The attack, which triggered global outrage and condemnation, was claimed by the Pakistan-based militant group JeM and prompted a spike in tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
Jaish-e-Mohammed, literally “The Army of Muhammad”, abbreviated as JeM is a Pakistan-based Deobandi jihadist terrorist group active in Kashmir. The group’s primary motive is to separate Kashmir from India and merge it into Pakistan. Since its inception in 2000, the terror outfit has carried out several attacks in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It projects Kashmir as a “gateway” to entire India and whose Muslims are also deemed to be in need of liberation. After liberating Kashmir, it aims to carry its ‘jihad’ to other parts of India, with intent to drive Hindus and other non-Muslims from the Indian subcontinent. It also maintained close relations with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and continues to be allied to them. JeM was actually created with the support of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which uses it to fight in Kashmir and other places, and continues to provide backing. The JeM has been banned in Pakistan since 2002 but it resurfaced under other names. It continues to openly operate several facilities in the country. Jaish-e-Mohammed is viewed as the “deadliest” and “the principal terrorist organisation in Jammu and Kashmir”.
The group was responsible for several terror attacks — 2001 attack on Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly, 2001 Indian Parliament attack, 2016 Pathankot airbase attack, 2016 attack on the Indian Mission in Mazar-i-Sharif, 2016 Uri attack, and 2019 Pulwama attack — each of these has had strategic consequences for India-Pakistan relationship. In 2016, Jaish was suspected of being responsible for an attack on the Pathankot airbase in India. The Indian government and some other sources accused Pakistan of assisting Jaish in conducting the attack. However, Pakistan denied assisting Jaish and arrested several members of Jaish in connection with the attack who were then released by the security establishment. This time the group took responsibility for a suicide bombing attack on a security convoy in Pulwama, named as one of the largest attacks in recent years. In response to this attack, 12 Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 jets crossed the Line of Control and struck Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp inside Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
JeM originally operated training camps in Afghanistan, jointly with the other militant groups. After the fall of the Taliban government, it relocated them to Balakot and Peshawar in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. By 2009, it developed a new headquarters in Bahawalpur in Pakistani Punjab, 420 miles from south of Islamabad. These include a madrassa in the centre of the city and a 6.5 acre walled complex that serves as a training facility; including water training and horseback riding. Bahawalpur also serves as a rest and recuperation facility for jihadists fighting in Afghanistan; away from the areas of US drone attacks. It is also close to the bases of other militant groups with which JeM is believed to have operational ties: Lashkar-e-Taiba in Muridke, Sipah-e-Sahaba in Gojra, and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi also based in Punjab. There are at least 500-1,000 other madrassas in Bahawalpur, most of which teach a violent version of Islam to children.