India has declared Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed, Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar, LeT’s supreme commander of operations in Kashmir Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim as terrorists under the Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amendment) Act.
The declaration was made through a gazette notification issued on Wednesday.
The move comes days after the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amendment) Act (UAPA) Bill, 2019 seeking to designate individuals suspected to have terror links as “terrorists”, was passed in the Rajya Sabha on August 2.
The anti-terror bill was passed with 147 votes in its favour and 42 against it in the Upper House of the Parliament.
The contentious bill was passed in the Lok Sabha with 284 votes in its favour and eight against it after the opposition walked out in protest on July 24.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah defending the bill has said that “terrorism has no religion and terrorists are against humanity”.
Amit Shah further said that counter-terrorism can only be carried out effectively if individuals linked to these organisations are punished.
The opposition had objected to the amendment bill saying the law could be misused to target individuals.
Congress leader P Chidambaram said that the party was not opposing the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act Bill but the idea of Centre being “empowered to add or remove an individual’s name as a terrorist”.
The Centre had maintained that amendments to UAPA will keep anti-terror agencies two steps ahead of terrorists.
Pakistan-based Saeed, the mastermind of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, and Azhar, responsible for the recent Pulwama attack and 2001 attack on Parliament, will be the first two individuals who will be declared as terrorists once Rajya Sabha passes the Bill and the amendments come into effect, a home ministry official had earlier said.
With Azhar, Saeed, Lakhvi and Dawood declared terrorists, the government can now seize their properties and put travel ban on them.
An individual designated as a terrorist can appeal to the Union Home Secretary who will have to dispose of the appeal within 45 days.
In addition, a review committee headed by a sitting or retired judge with at least two retired secretaries of the government of India as members can be approached against the decision of declaration of an individual as a terrorist.
In a huge diplomatic win for India, the United Nations on May 1 designated Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist” after China lifted its hold on a proposal to blacklist the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief, a decade after New Delhi approached the world body for the first time on the issue.
Azhar’s JeM had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack in February which killed 40 CRPF personnel.
Meanwhile, Hafiz Saeed is the mastermind behind the Mumbai terror attacks that killed 166 people.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Hafiz Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the United States, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Hafiz Saeed to justice.
Saeed was listed under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008.