India outraged over bail to Mumbai terror mastermind

New Delhi: India was outraged Friday over a Pakistani court's decision to give bail to the Mumbai terror attack mastermind Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing shock in parliament.

But even as the Pakistani government, after widespread flak, said Lakhvi had been detained anew under the Maintenance of Public Order in Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail, Indian MPs expressed their disgust.

The Lok Sabha passed a resolution denouncing an Islamabad court's ruling Thursday to free Lakhvi on bail, just two days after terrorists massacred over 140 children and teachers at a Peshawar school - a carnage that drew condemnation across India.

"We express grave concern of the Indian people that just after the tragic killing(s) in Peshawar, an accused terrorist could be released on bail by the same country," the resolution said.

"It seems the lesson that there should be no compromise with terrorists has not been learnt," it added.

A sombre Modi told the Lok Sabha that India had strongly conveyed its sentiments to Pakistan.

He said India was deeply saddened by the slaughter in Peshawar and "was cognizant of the pain Pakistan might be reeling under".

But the release on bail of the former Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander, one of those who allegedly planned the Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, had come as a "shock" to "all those who believe in humanity", Modi said.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj did not mince words. She accused Pakistan of making a mockery of its pledge to fight terrorism by giving bail to Lakhvi.

"Pakistan had given an assurance to fight terror in all forms. But by this, it has made a mockery of it," she told the Lok Sabha.

"We reject the argument that the evidence against Lakhvi, the mastermind of 26/11, was not sufficient.

"Pakistan had six years time to collect evidence. It was their duty. We demand from Pakistan that this decision should be overturned."

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval however said Pakistan had taken a "positive step" by detaining Lakhvi.

"India has responded firmly on issue of Lakhvi and Pakistan has also responded. It is a positive step as far both nations are concerned. Pakistan is appealing in the high court," Doval said.

The Pakistan government had decided to appeal in superior courts against Lakhvi's bail, the Dawn reported Friday.

Lakhvi is among seven people charged with planning and helping to carry out the 2008 Mumbai bloodbath. He and the others are lodged in Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.

In a rare development, even the Pakistani media appeared to side with India on Lakhvi.

The Nation said in an editorial that the bail to Lakhvi was an insult to the students killed in Peshawar and must be reversed.

It "has undercut the building narrative of not discriminating between terrorists as well as the nascent gestures of solidarity between India and Pakistan" following the Peshawar carnage, it added.

"The decision has led to outrage in India; the inklings of trust and mutual suffering have been erased."

In another editorial, The News International said Pakistan may have spurned a chance to make further progress with New Delhi on the peace path after the court decision.

"His release, pending a government appeal, only shows how difficult it will be to tackle the militant menace when our institutional processes are so flawed," it said.

In parliament, both opposition and ruling party MPs attacked Pakistan.

Said Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge: "After 132 children were killed in Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said all steps would be taken now to contain terror."But just two days later, we saw another face of Pakistan. A court has granted bail to Lakhvi."

BJP's Kirit Somaiya said Lakhvi should be immediately handed over to India and meet the fate as Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistani terrorist hanged for the Mumbai massacre.

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