LeT operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the 2008 Mumbai terror attack mastermind, is living in relative luxury inside jail with access to internet, mobile phones and visitors despite Pakistan’s protestations that it is cracking down on militants.
One of Pakistan’s most notorious prisoners, 55-year-old Lakhvi is living in relative luxury in Rawalpindi’s sprawling high-security Adiala Jail, the BBC Urdu reported.
Lakhvi and six others - Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum - have been charged with planning and executing the Mumbai attacks in November, 2008 that left 166 people dead.
Despite facing such serious charges, Lakhvi and his co-conspirators have several rooms at their disposal right next to the jailer’s office, it said.
“They have the jailer’s permission to have a television, mobile phones and access to internet, as well as dozens of visitors a day,” the BBC Urdu reported, citing jail officials.
Lakhvi “can receive any number of guests, any time of day or night, seven days a week”, a jail official said.
No special permission is required, and his visitors are not even required to identify themselves to jail authorities.
“This would be unthinkable anywhere else, but elements in the Pakistani establishment are known to have provided such facilities to certain jailed militant commanders who they believe they may need in future for reasons of national security,” it said.
Lakhvi, believed to be a close relative of LeT founder and Jamat-Ud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, was arrested in December 2008 and was indicted along with the six others on November 25, 2009 in connection with the 26/11 attack case.
The trial has been underway since 2009. He has been detained at Adiala jail for the last five years or so.
“Lakhvi’s uninterrupted access to guests, mobile phone and the internet has kept him in effective contact with the LeT rank and file,” it said.
“On an average, he receives about 100 visitors every day; they are escorted to his private quarters where they can meet him without the watch of jail guards, and can stay for as long as they like,” it said, citing a jail official.
On December 18, 2014, an anti-terrorism court granted bail to Lakhvi, who was involved in planning, financing and executing the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008.
The Pakistani government, however, detained him the next day under MPO but IHC Judge Qureshi suspended Lakhvi’s detention due to “weak legal ground”.
Just before he was to be released from Adiala Jail, Lakhvi was arrested on charges of kidnapping an Afghan national.