The security forces have started a hunt for Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, the main conspirator in the Pulwama attack, top sources have told India TV. Ghazi's location has been traced to forest regions in Pulwama or Tral.
The sources say that Ghazi recently recruited nearly 70 youths between the age group of 18-23. Out of these recruits, Ahmed Dar was category C recruit, they said.
Meanwhile, a team of National Investigation Agency (NIA) has reached the site of Pulwama attack for further investigation.
Who is Abdul Rasheed Ghazi?
Ghazi Rasheed is a close associate of Masood Azhar and one of his most trusted Jaish commanders, who joined the outfit in 2008. The 32-year-old was trained by the Taliban in Afghanistan. He returned from Pakistan's North Waziristan in 2010 and was working as trainer for Jaish recruits in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Ghazi Rasheed commands all Jaish operations in India and is believed to be hiding in south Kashmir.
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Ghazi Rasheed managed to infiltrate Kashmir along with his two associates around mid-December last year.
He was sent to Kashmir by Masood Azhar to avenge the killings of his two nephews, Talah Rasheed and Usman, in 2017 and 2018 respectively in south Kashmir's Pulwama district. This is the same Pulwama region where at least 40 CRPF soldiers were killed in the terror attack.
After Masood Azhar's second nephew Usman, who was a Jaish sniper, got neutralised in an encounter with security forces in Pulwama's Tral area last year, the Pakistan-based terror outfit sent its top commander Ghazi Rasheed to the Valley.
Intelligence sources say Ghazi Rasheed had a narrow escape in an encounter between militants and security forces in Pulwama's Ratnipora village just days before Thursday's attack. In that encounter, one local militant was killed but three others manage to escape. An army jawan HV Baljeet was also martyred in the gunfight.