NEW DELHI: The grant of bail to key Mumbai attack handler Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi by a Pakistan court today sparked condemnation in India and was described as incorrect and "very unfortunate" especially in the aftermath of Peshawar carnage when a crackdown against terrorists was promised.
As political leaders and the civil society said the court order was shocking and could be a "setback" besides sending a wrong message to the world, Home Minister Rajnath Singh blamed Pakistan, saying there might be some laxity on the part of the prosecution in taking the case forward.
Terming the order for release by an Anti-Terrorism court in Rawalpindi as "very unfortunate" as it came just two days after the terror attack in Peshawar where over 130 school children were killed, Singh hoped that the Pakistan government will approach a higher court and ensure its cancellation.
"There might be be some laxity on the part of the Pakistan government somewhere or could be due to some other reasons (the bail was granted)," he said at a hurriedly-called press briefing.
Singh said India had pursued the Mumbai attacks case meticulously and that resulted in fast trial and delivery of justice to the case with the hanging of one of the terrorists Ajmal Kasab.
"But it is not happening in Pakistan. We have given enough evidence against the terrorists," he said.
Singh said that Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had asserted that operations against terror elements will continue in his country till terrorism ends.
"So, I hope that the Pakistan government will appeal in a higher court so that Lakhvi's bail is cancelled," he said.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the grant of bail was incorrect even as he noted that India had shown maturity and gave them support in the aftermath of the Peshawar attack.
Senior BJP leader L K Advani said the bail order ws "very shocking" after the recent Pakistan attack. "It has never happened anywhere across the globe," he said.
Ujjwal Nikam, Public prosecutor in the Mumbai terror attack case, termed as a "setback" the order and asked Pakistani authorities to ensure it is cancelled.
"It is really a big setback as with Lakhvi on bail prosecution witnesses will not like to come forward and give evidence," he said.
"If Pakistan wants to fight terrorism, they should fight terrorism emanating from inside first of all because this problem has been cropping up there for a long time.
The Peshawar incident shook the world," Nikam said.
"The Pakistani authorities should move a higher court for cancellation of the bail because Hafiz Saeed (LeT founder) and Lakhvi are the real terrorists (behind the Mumbai attack)," he said.
Lakhvi is among the seven Pakistani nationals accused of planning and abetting the brazen terror attack in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 that left 166 dead, including foreigners.
Hitting out at Pakistan for the release of Lakhvi, Union Minister Babul Supriyo said the neighbouring country is sending a very "bad message".
"It is very sad to know 132 children were killed... But by giving bail to one of the masterminds of Mumbai terror attacks soon after it is sending a very bad message not only in terms of international relations, but also in terms of terrorists who actually have done the damage to humanity," he said on the sidelines of a function here.
Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy also criticised the bail order.
"The terror attack in Mumbai was carried out by masterminds residing in Pakistan. It has been proved in all the documents that Lakhvi had carried out the attack. It is the biggest and most tragic incident in India.
"Same kind of incident was seen in Peshawar...This hypocrisy of Pakistan is dangerous and the whole world including Pakistan have to understand it," he said.
Another Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said it is a matter of concern that Lakhvi will be released on bail especially after the Pakistan Premier pledged to wipe out terrorism. Smita Salaskar, wife of slain Mumbai cop Vijay Salaskar, said the bail order was very bad.
Pakistan should be pressurised to punish the people who were involved in 26/11, she said.
Pakistan is not serious about ensuring justice in the Mumbai attack, she said, adding that the case should be handed over to India.
AAP National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal said bail to Lakhvi was shocking and a setback to the fight against terrorism.
"Bail to 26/11 accused Lakhvi is shocking and a setback to fight against terrorism," the former Delhi chief minister tweeted.