| Gazi Baba’s body in Srinagar.
Srinagar, Sept. 1: The Border Security Force today released what it claimed was an intercepted message from the Jaish-e-Mohammad to its cadre, announcing Gazi Baba’s death and exhorting them to avenge his killing.
The radio intercept in Urdu was played by the BSF this evening following doubts over its claim that one of the militants killed in Saturday’s encounter was Gazi Baba, the Jaish chief commander in the Valley.
“Hamare dilon ki dhadkan, hamare saron ke taj, hamare mehboob, Mohtrum Gazi Baba aur unke naib chale gaye hain. Allah unki shahadat ko qabool farmaye. (The beat of our hearts, the crown of our heads, our beloved commander Gazi Baba and his deputy have left for their heavenly abode…. May God accept their sacrifice.)”
The message was sent by Code 3, a senior commander of the Jaish, from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, urging the cadre to “inflict sorrow and grief” on those who are happy about Gazi Baba’s death.
It now appears that Gazi Baba’s real name was Rana Tahir Nadeem. He had several aliases and at least six code names to confuse Indian security forces which were on the lookout for him for the last 10 years. One of his aliases was Jihadi.
The Indians first knew him as the operational commander of the Harkat-ul Mujahideen. In 1998, as the chief operational commander of the Harkat, he was based in Safapora, in Ganderal, the home constituency of the Farooq Abdullah family.
The Pakistani militants of the Harkat were under his command. Masood Azhar, one of those set free by India in exchange for the passengers of the hijacked IC 184 aircraft, was a close confidant.
The Jaish was floated around February-March 2000 after Masood’s release and Gazi Baba was given the task of establishing the outfit in Kashmir. He assumed the name Gazi Baba during the switchover and attracted a large number of Pakistanis to the outfit. Many Harkat cadre also joined the Jaish.
BSF director general Ajai Raj Sharma, who played the radio broadcast for the media, said the intercept should put at rest the controversy regarding the identity of the slain militant.
He said Gazi Baba’s wife had identified the body. “We have done careful cross-checks on his identity and only then we came to conclude that it was him. But if anybody has any evidence contrary to it, we have an open mind on it,” Sharma added.
Among other things that have been helpful in proving his identity were a prominent mark on Gazi Baba’s eyebrow, the dental structure and the testimony of a BSF source who had seen the militant earlier, Sharma said.