Mumbai attack mastermind and banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed will walk free tonight if the Pakistan government does not detain him in any other case, his lawyer said today.
The JuD head, who carries a bounty of USD 10 million announced by the US for his role in terror activities, has been under detention since January this year.
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The Judicial Review Board of Punjab province comprising judges of the Lahore High Court yesterday unanimously ordered Saeeds release on the completion of his 30-day house arrest which will expire midnight.
“Saeed will walk free after midnight if the government does not detain him in any other case. We fear that the Punjab government may detain Saeed in any other case,” Saeeds counsel Advocate A K Dogar told PTI.
He said a large number of JuD workers have gathered outside Saeeds residence in Jauhar Town Lahore to welcome him on his release tonight.
The fire-brand clerics release may also coincide with the 9th anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed.
On the other hand, sources in the home department of the Punjab government are insisting that Saeed will not be released as he is being booked in another case.
“The JuD chief was illegally detained for 297 days. Hafiz Saeed always worked for Pakistan and the government could not prove any allegation against him,” Dogar had said yesterday.
He had warned that they will move the court without any delay if the government does not comply with the order of the judicial board and set him free.
On January 31, Saeed and his four aides - Abdullah Ubaid, Malik Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Hussain - were detained by the Punjab government for 90 days under Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and the Fourth Schedule of Anti- Terrorism Act 1997. However, the last two extensions were made on the public safety law.
The board refused to give further extension to the detention of Saeeds aides. They were set free last month.
Under the law, the government can detain a person for up to three months under different charges but for extension to that detention it needs approval from a judicial review board.
The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attack.
Saeed was put under house arrest after Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 but he was freed by court in 2009.
India has repeatedly asked Pakistan to re-investigate the Mumbai terror attack case and also demanded trial of Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in the light of evidence it had provided to Islamabad.
The Ministry of External Affairs today said Saeeds release confirms the “lack of seriousness” on Pakistans part in bringing terrorists to justice and its nefarious designs to shield and support non-state actors.
“India, as indeed, the entire international community is outraged that a selk-confessed and UN-proscribed terrorist is being allowed to walk free and continue with his evil agenda,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in New Delhi.
Ten LeT militants killed 166 people and wounded dozens in Mumbai in November, 2008. Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was caught.
Kasab was executed after a court found him guilty and handed down death sentence.