Lahore | Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, who guided 10 LeT gunmen from a control room during the 26/11 Mumbai attack, today walked free after being under detention for six years, a day after a Pakistani court ordered his release. 55-year-old Lakhvi, mastermind of the nearly 60-hour siege, was released from Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi after authorities received the order from the Lahore High Court, setting free the LeT operations commander.
India had strongly reacted to the court’s decision, saying it eroded the value of assurances repeatedly conveyed to it by Pakistan on cross-border terrorism. A member of Lakhvi’s legal team today submitted the LHC order to the jail authorities and subsequently they released him at 1.40 pm.
Jamaat-ud-Dawa supporters were present outside the prison to receive Lakhvi. Some four to five cars reached outside the Adiala Jail at around 1 pm and as soon Lakhvi came out of the jail, he got into his car and left for his Islamabad residence. JuD spokesman Yahya Mujahid did not offer any comment on Lakhvi’s release when contacted him. We have released Lakhvi after a member of his legal team presented the LHC order.
There has been no direction from the government to either detain or release him, a jail official said. Yesterday LHC had suspended the Punjab government’s order to detain Lakhvi under a security act and ordered his immediate release. Earlier in the day, the government’s legal teamdiscussed several options to keep Lakhvi behind the bars. However, it could not offer any legal ground to further detain him.
A government law officer earlier said it was difficult for the government to go for the option of detaining Lakhvi again under the Maintenance of Public Order which had been suspended twice by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and Lahore High Court. Lakhvi’s counsel Raja Rizwan Abbasisaid, Thegovernment was left with no other ‘legal option’ but to release his client after the LHC suspended his detention.
Neither the government nor the Adiala Jail authorities could violate the court’s order this time, he said. Lakhvi and six others have been charged with planning and executing the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people and wounded over 300 others.
Lakhvi, a close relative of LeT founder and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, was arrested in December 2008 and was indicted along with the six others on November 25, 2009 in connection with the 26/11 attack case. The trial has been underway since 2009.
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