Opposition and ruling parties joined the chorus of outrage in the Lok Sabha on Thursday over a Pakistani court’s relief to 26/11 plotter Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, before the terrorist was detained again.
The 54-year-old Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander who planned and steered the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that left 166 people dead, was to be freed on bail from a Rawalpindi jail in the morning but the Nawaz Sharif government detained him there for three months slapping stringent provisions of a public security law.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the condemnation when members across parties criticised Pakistan for showing a “double face” on terrorism at a time it was mourning the massacre of 148 people, mostly children, in Peshawar.
The decision to grant bail to Lakhvi comes two months after India and Pakistan were engaged in their worst cross-border violence in more than a decade, in the Kashmir region.
“This type of attitude is a setback for all those who believe in humanitarianism,” Modi said. “We have conveyed the message in appropriate words to Pakistan.”
Modi, along with foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, senior BJP leaders and Congress MP Sashi Tharoor, drafted a resolution condemning the bail to one of India’s most wanted terrorist.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan read out the resolution which asked the government to take “all steps in its power, including through its relations with foreign countries, to put pressure on Pakistan to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion”.
“We demand that the Pakistan government have this decision overturned immediately. We are keeping a watch on its response,” it reads. “It seems that the lesson that there should be no compromise with terrorists has not been learnt.”
The MPs minced no words to vent their anger — some asking the government to mount pressure on Pakistan to hand over Lakhvi to India, others calling the Islamabad court’s ruling “totally perverse” and it exposed the nation’s double face on terrorism.
The legislators wondered in what kind of jail Lakhvi has been kept that he could hire a child in the six years behind bars since his capture in December 2008.
Foreign minister Swaraj rejected the Pakistani argument about lack of evidence against Lakhvi to nail him in the 26/11 case. “It is their (Pakistan's) responsibility to ensure punishment to them (Mumbai attack accused) by furnishing evidence.”
“The Pakistani government, by letting Lakhvi go out on bail, has made a mockery of its pledge to fight terror groups without any condition or discrimination ... It emboldens terrorists who massacred children in Peshawar,” she said.
The Lok Sabha asked the Pakistani government to “proceed strongly” with its declared intention to appeal in a higher court to reverse Lakhvi’s release.
The bail became a source of embarrassment for Pakistani prime minister Sharif since he has pledged zero tolerance against terrorists or terror activities following the Peshawar carnage.
“The matter (bail) was brought to the notice of Sharif and he immediately ordered Lakhvi’s detention,” a Pakistani interior ministry official said.
“The Sharif government was upset because it faced criticism from India on its policy fighting terror at a time it was resolving to crush terror networks from its soil.”