‘Major security lapse in issuing visa to Rana couple’

Last Updated: Sunday, November 22, 2009 - 16:08

New Delhi: An inquiry has revealed that the
Indian Consulate in Chicago was guilty of a major security
lapse while issuing visas to Tahawwur Rana, a Pakistani-
Canadian arrested by the FBI for allegedly plotting terror
strikes in India, and his wife.

The 48-year-old Pakistan-born businessman based in
Chicago was issued a multi-entry visa for a period of one-year
and his spouse Samraz Rana Akhtar was given a five-year
multiple-entry visa by the Consulate last year which enabled
them to visit Mumbai and several other places in India days
before the 26/11 terror strikes in the financial capital of
the country. The visas were issued at the discretion of Indian
Consulate General.

An internal inquiry has shown that the residential
address provided in the visa applications by Rana couple does
not exist. Moreover, an immigration services company where
Rana claimed to have been employed told the Indian authorities
that he was never employed by them nor did they have a branch
in Mumbai as stated by him, official sources said on Sunday.

This flies in the face of the claim made by the Consulate
last week that it had done "due scrutiny" before issuing visas
to Rana and his wife.

The Consulate did not reply to e-mailed questions about the revelations that have been made in the course of
internal inquiry. External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had
publicly stated that the issuance of the visas to the Rana duo
would be inquired into.

Both the visas were issued "under the discretion of the
Consul General" and the Home Ministry had maintained that it
was in violation of rules under which its clearance is
required for any person born in Pakistan. Rana was born in
Chichawatni while his wife was born in Bahawalpur.

Both the places are in Pakistan`s Punjab province. The
two were exempted even from registering with the police if
their stay did not exceed 180 days.

Senior government officials said there was a circular of
2004 under which the visa applications of people of Pakistan,
Iran and Bangladesh origin should be referred to Union Home
Ministry for clearance. However, the circular gave discretion
to ambassadors and consuls general to give visas to such
nationals which the Consular General in Chicago had utilised,
the sources said.

Rana and his wife arrived in Mumbai on November 12 last
year after which they travelled to Kochi in Kerala on November
16.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, November 22, 2009 - 16:08

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