ISLAMABAD -- Protests in Pakistan demanding the release of militant leader Hafiz Saeed escalated on Wednesday as Syed Salahuddin, Hizb-ul Mujhadeen chief, called upon Islamabad to reverse its detention order, which it termed "painful and cowardly".
Saeed was detained on Monday night under Section 11-EEE (1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1977, a notification issued by the interior ministry said.
The move came after years of pressure on Pakistan from neighbour India, the US and the UN to put the Jamaat-ud-Dawah leader on trial. His detention could potentially ease the recently escalating tensions with New Delhi, which blames Saeed for masterminding the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
Salahuddin, chairman of United Jihad Council (UJC), said in a statement: "Hafiz Mohammad Saeed has not only been urging the international community to break its criminal silence on Kashmir, but he has also been exposing the atrocities of India's imperialistic regime."
In one such demonstration on Wednesday, demonstrators held an effigy, on which portraits of US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and flags of the US and India were affixed. The effigy and a banner with portraits of the duo and flags of both countries were torched afterwards.
They were also carrying several banners and placards, inscribed with slogans in favour of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief.
"House arrest of Hafiz Saeed to please India is unacceptable," read a big banner.
The JuD leaders also warned the government of launch of a protest movement if Saeed was not released immediately.
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