LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Hundreds of employees and supporters of a Pakistani Islamic charity on Tuesday rallied across the country after authorities detained their leader, whose organization is linked to the group behind the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack.
Hafiz Saeed, head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa organization, was placed under house arrest Monday, along with four of his deputies. His organization is linked to and widely believed to be a front group for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group behind the deadly attack in the Indian city.
Saeed's arrest has been long sought by both the Indian and the American government. The U.S. has a standing $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction. He has vowed to continue his work and claims his detention was the result on pressure from new U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, his associates say.
On Tuesday, Saeed's supporters rallied in all major Pakistani cities, including Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar, demanding his release.
Yahya Mujahid, Saeed's spokesman, pledged to petition Pakistani courts to get him freed. Mujahid also announced rallies across Pakistan for Sunday to express solidarity with people living in the Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Pakistan and India have a history of bitter relations. In recent months they have repeatedly exchanged fire in Kashmir, the Himalayan border territory divided between them and claimed by both in its entirety. In the Indian sector, security forces in recent months launched a major crackdown on separatists, triggering deadly violence and unrest.
At Tuesday's rallies, the Pakistani demonstrators chanted slogans against India. New Delhi has demanded Islamabad take measures against all Pakistan suspects involved in acts of terror in India.
In New Delhi, Vikas Swarup, spokesman for the external affairs ministry, said in a statement that "only a credible crackdown on the mastermind of the Mumbai terrorist attack and terrorist organizations involved in cross-border terrorism would be proof of Pakistan's sincerity."
Associated Press writers Nirmala George in New Delhi and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.