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Ghazi Baba -- the face of terror

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | August 30, 2003 18:04 IST
Last Updated: August 30, 2003 19:25 IST

The Jaish-e-Mohammed's commander-in-chief in Jammu and Kashmir and coordinator of terrorist activities in the valley, Ghazi Baba, came into prominence in 1998 when he led an attack in Anantnag district in which 25 Pandits were killed.

He was a close associate of Maulana Masood Azhar who, along with two other terrorists, was released in exchange for the passengers of Indian Airlines Flight IC-814, which was hijacked to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 1999. Azhar made him number 2 in the Jaish following the incident.

At that time Ghazi Baba was deputy commander of the Harkat-ul-Ansar, which was one of the first terrorist outfits to be banned by the United States.

Ruthless in his approach, the resident of Bahawalpur in Pakistan frequently changed his identity. Among his many aliases were Saqlin, Jehangir and Shahbaz Khan.

"I am glad that the Border Security Force has killed Ghazi Baba," Ashok Chand, Delhi's deputy commissioner of police (anti-terrorist cell), told rediff.com "This is a major setback to terrorism. He was one of those who would always plan a big strike. He was involved in a number of heinous incidents like the killings of Kashmiri Pandits, car bomb attacks on security forces, attack on the Jammu and Kashmir assembly on October 1, 2001, and the attack on Parliament."

A few times the Delhi police conducted raids on his hideouts in Audu village in Pahalgam. Ghazi Baba managed to elude them and crossed over to Pakistan when matters became too hot in Kashmir.

Sunil Shakdhar, a leading Kashmiri Pandit activist in New Delhi, congratulated the BSF. "This is a major breakthrough," Shakdhar said. "I shudder to think what he could have done when Prime Minister Vajpayee and other dignitaries were attending the Inter-State Council meeting in Srinagar early this week. The fact that he was killed in downtown area of Srinagar shows that terrorism is still very much alive in the valley. We must take up this issue with the Americans and European governments."

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