New Delhi: Masood Azhar’s name first hit the headlines after he was released in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 1999, following the hijack of Indian Airlines flight IC-814. In January 2000, he formed the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). The outfit grew into a massive headache for India with its name featuring in almost every terrorist attack in the early 2000s. Azhar created the outfit with the aim to separate Kashmir from India. 

After a lot of pressure, the Pakistan government banned the JeM along with a few other groups in 2002 but it allegedly kept it alive by funding it and shielding its commanders. The banned outfit has emerged on several occasions under different names. The security agencies consider the JeM as the ‘deadliest’ terrorist organisation because of its deep-rooted network.

India has repeatedly asked for listing Azhar as a ‘global terrorist’ by the United Nations. However, in 2018 China blocked the move stating that the issue lacks ‘consensus’ among members of the UN Security Council (UNSC).

The JeM, along with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), was also responsible for the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament. The attack caused nine deaths and strained the India-Pakistan relations, which have continued to worsen ever since.

In 2016, JeM members were involved in carrying out an attack at the Pathankot airbase. Pakistan was also accused of having assisted the organisation. However, the country’s government denied the allegations.