NEW DELHI: India on Thursday slammed the release of Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) leader Hafiz Saeed and accused Pakistan of trying to mainstream a terrorist, thus designated by the United Nations.

In Lahore, the JuD leader walked free after about 300-day house arrest as his latest 30-day detention expired on Thursday midnight.

The Punjab government set him free after a provincial review board on Wednesday ordered his release following the failure of the home department to justify his detention.

A number of JuD workers had gathered early in the day outside the Johar Town residence of Hafiz Saeed to greet him on his release.

Official sources told Dawn that the government could no way hold him back after the review board’s decision.

The board had told the Punjab government to release Hafiz Saeed if he was not wanted in any other case. There was speculation before his release that he might be booked in some other case.

Earlier, Indian Express quoted a foreign ministry spokesperson as expressing “outrage” at the imminent release of the man Delhi accuses of being the Mumbai terror attack mastermind. “The release confirms Pakistan’s lack of seriousness in bringing perpetrators of terror to justice,” the Express said, quoting the spokesperson.

“India is outraged that a self-confessed and UN-proscribed terrorist has been allowed to walk free,” spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, adding that it was an attempt by Pakistan to “mainstream” proscribed terrorists.

India claims that the JuD head was the mastermind of 2008 Mumbai attacks that left 166 people dead. Ten gunmen, including Ajmal Kasab, had gone on a killing spree in the city after reaching the city from Karachi by sea, India says.

Hafiz Saeed carries a bounty of $10 million announced by the US for his role in terror activities. He had been under detention since January this year. He was put under house arrest after the Mumbai attack but was released about six months later in June 2009.

Mansoor Malik in Lahore contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2017

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