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Rediff.com  » News » Lashkar may try to free jailed 26/11 mastermind Lakhvi

Lashkar may try to free jailed 26/11 mastermind Lakhvi

June 01, 2012 15:43 IST

The Lashkar-e-Tayiba may be try to free 26/11 prime accused Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi from prison after Pakistan confirmed his role in the Mumbai attacks to India last week.

Amir Mir reports from Islamabad.

The Pakistani authorities have further tightened the security around the Adiala jail in Rawalpindi following credible intelligence that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba may resort to a jail break to secure the release of its chief operational commander, Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi.

Lakhvi is imprisoned in the garrison town jail and being tried for his reported involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

According to well informed interior ministry sources in Islamabad, the security cordon around the Adiala jail has been beefed up following intelligence reports that the Lashkar may attempt a jail break on the lines of the April 15 assault on the central jail in the Bannu district in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

In that attack, around 200 Taliban terrorists attacked the jail and secured the release of Adnan Rashid, a Pakistan air force staffer who was sentenced to death by a military court for the December 2003 assassination attempt on then president Pervez Musharraf.

The attackers also freed 384 other prisoners linked with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

The Adiala jail authorities have deployed additional troops of the Punjab Rangers and the Punjab constabulary, both inside and outside the jail besides installing anti-aircraft guns on the prison's rooftops.

The entry of all private vehicles has been banned and the guards have been asked to scan all visitors and whatever food they bring for their imprisoned relatives.

Around two dozen armed personnel of the Punjab Rangers, 75 Elite Force jawans and 75 jail guards patrol the premises round the clock. More than 50 Punjab Rangers have been deployed inside the prison in addition to the police and jail guards.

Lakhvi and five Lashkar associates are being tried inside the Adiala jail by a judge of the anti terrorism court in Rawalpindi.

According to media reports, Pakistan has acknowledged for the first time that there is enough evidence to prosecute Lakhvi for his involvement in the Mumbai attacks. These reports claimed that during the May 24-25 home secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan, which were held in Islamabad, Pakistani officials admitted that investigations conducted by the country's Federal Investigation Agency had established Lakhvi's direct involvement in the 26/11 bloodbath, that killed 166 people.

Pakistani interior ministry officials reportedly told Indian Home Secretary R K Singh and his team that the evidence against Lakhvi -- which related largely to his role in organising funds and logistics, including the boat and inflatable dingy for the terrorists who attacked Mumbai -- was strong enough to secure his conviction in court.

Indian officials have termed it a 'significant admission', stressing that the Pakistani authorities would be required to produce the evidence in the court trying Lakhvi and six others, including Lashkar commanders Zarar Shah and Abu Al Qama, inside Adiala jail.

The development marks validation of the evidence that India gathered against Lakhvi and his accomplices and will please Indian investigators who saw Pakistan cussedly shrugging off their findings as flimsy.

But there are those in Pakistan's security establishment who doubt if Lakhvi will ever be convicted for the Mumbai attacks.

Amir Mir in Islamabad