When terrorists of the Jaish-e-Mohammad mounted an attack on the Indian Parliament 10 years ago, a stunning message was delivered that the group had the reach and capability to strike at any target in any part of the country.
Today it doesn’t figure among the militant groups active even in Jammu and Kashmir, leave alone the rest of India. Barring the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, almost all other groups that had announced their arrival in April 2000 with suicide bombing at the gates of a major cantonment in Srinagar are more or less out of the scene.
But the ability of the Jaish – founded by Maulana Masood Azhar soon after his release on December 31, 1999, in exchange of the hostages of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane – to bounce back is not ruled out by the intelligence agencies.
The security forces believe a body blow was dealt to the group with the killing of Saif-ullah Qarri – the mastermind of the plot to attack the makeshift temple in Ayodhya in 2005 – in Jammu in 2007.
He was the last major commander of the group after the death of Ghazi Baba, who had plotted the attack on Parliament and died in an encounter with the Border Security Force in Srinagar in August 2003. Ghazi Baba was the lynchpin of the Jaish in J&K.
He kept his identity hidden to even his followers.
But as long as Masood Azhar, currently operating from Pakistan, is alive, there looms the threat of this group staging a comeback, though under a different name. It has not given up its anti-Indian stance.
The Lashar and Jaish have been working in tandem and often use the local outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahideen for logistic support.