Saeed is 26/11 mastermind, says India as he gets court reprieve


New Delhi/Lahore: India reiterated Monday that Hafiz Saeed was the “mastermind” of the Mumbai attacks but the Lahore High Court dismissed two cases against him filed under the anti-terrorism act.

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After the court delivered its verdict, Saeed’s lawyer A.K. Dogar told reporters in Lahore: “I argued in court that the Punjab (provincial) government had not proscribed the JuD (Jamaat-ud Dawa that Saeed heads) even though the UN has done so. The court accepted my contention.”

In India, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told a private television channel that Saeed was the main planner behind the Mumbai attacks in which over 170 people were killed.

“We are still insisting that Hafiz Saeed was the brain behind the Mumbai blast and the government of Pakistan must conduct an investigation and bring those responsible for the Mumbai attacks to justice,” Krishna said, reacting to the Pakistani court judgment.

The court’s orders came just a day after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanded that Pakistan should try and punish those who masterminded the Mumbai terror attack last year.

The prime minister told reporters in Mumbai that diplomatic pressure from India and the international community had forced Pakistan to admit for the first time that its nationals were involved in the terror assault that killed some 170 people.

“They should investigate all those who are involved (in that attack) including Hafiz Saeed, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. There should be a fair trial which will result in proper punishment being given to them. We have not lost hope.”

The LeT had morphed into the JuD after it was banned in the wake of the Dec 13, 2001, attack on the Indian parliament that New Delhi blamed on the terror group. Saeed is the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group that India blames for the Mumbai carnage.

On Sep 17, police in Faisalabad, 100 km from the Pakistan capital Islamabad, had lodged two first information reports (FIRs) against Saeed for making a speech in August in which he called for a jihad and appealed for funds for the JuD.

On Sep 21, it was reported that Saeed had been put under house arrest and that a posse of policemen had been deployed outside his residence, “restricting his movement”.

The next day, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani confirmed that Saeed had been arrested, saying the evidence against him would decide what action needs to be taken.

However, in a startling volte face Sep 24, Pakistan admitted that Saeed had not been arrested, saying this would “take time”.

Saeed’s lawyer, Dogar last month appealed against the two fresh cases filed against Saeed.

“We have to follow our law. As we are respecting the investigation and the courts of India, I request you to respect our courts. Wait for some time. The court process has started. We mean business. Whatever we have committed on all forums, we mean business,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told NDTV news channel in an interview.

India has submitted six dossiers on the involvement of Pakistan’s citizens, including Saeed, in the Mumbai attacks. Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone gunman captured during the carnage, has admitted to being a Pakistani citizen and to have been trained by the LeT for the assault. Kasab is currently being tried in a Mumbai court.