FILE photo: Lashkar-e-Taiba leader and 26/11 accused Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi
India has said it "cannot accept" that top Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, accused of plotting the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai in 2008, is being released on bail.
"It will serve as a reassurance to terrorists who indulge in heinous crimes. Let us not forget that the financing of the attack was done in Pakistan," said Syed Akbaruddin, spokesman in the ministry of external affairs.
A day after Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged to root out terrorism and lifted a ban on the death penalty in terror cases, an anti-terror court in Islamabad has granted bail to Lakhvi saying the prosecution has been unable to provide evidence against him.
Lakhvi was among seven people arrested in the Mumbai attacks trial in Pakistan in 2009.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said he hopes Pakistan will appeal in a higher court and "cancel the bail." He said, "This decision is unfortunate. I believe Pakistan didn't do enough; India has provided enough evidence (on Lakhvi's role in the 26/11 attacks)."
Lakhvi, 54, is accused of being one of the key plotters of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and also of training and handling the 10 Lashkar terrorists who sneaked into Mumbai and killed 166 people. The chargesheet against him says, "Lakhvi and the others organised four training camps to train the 26/11 terrorists, supplied weapons and explosives to them."
Azhar Chaudhry, Prosecutor of Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency, told NDTV, "once we get the order we will appeal against bail plea and demand a stay order."
India has repeatedly urged Pakistan to rein in terrorist groups operating on its soil.
This week, it pledged its support to Pakistan which is grappling with the massacre of 132 children in a Peshawar school. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to Mr Sharif and said the tragedy was "a call for our two countries and all those who believe in humanity to join hands to decisively and comprehensively defeat terrorism."
Lakhvi co-founded the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is banned in Pakistan. Another founder, Hafiz Saeed, accused by India of masterminding the 26/11 attacks and one of the world's most wanted men, already roams free in Pakistan and yesterday appeared on national TV blaming India for the massacre of the children at the Peshawar school and vowing revenge.