Facing criticism for issuing multi-entry visas to suspected terrorists Tahawwur Rana and his wife, the Indian Consulate in Chicago said on Wednesday that the visas were given after "due scrutiny of the available documents."
Arrested by the FBI in connection with a terror plot against India, Rana, a Pakistani-Canadian, along with his wife Samraz Rana Akhthar had been issued multiple entry visas by the Indian Consulate in Chicago in October 2008.
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said the issue of grant of visas was being looked into while the Indian Consulate in Chicago said the "visas were issued with due scrutiny of the available documents and following guidelines."
"The Consulate General of India, Chicago issued visas to Rana and his spouse as per the established procedure for issuance of visas to persons of Pakistani origin. As per the procedure, no prior clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs was required in such cases," Consul Vishvas Sapkal at the Indian Consulate at Chicago said in an e-mail response to PTI.
Both the visas were issued "under the discretion of the Consul General" with the Home Ministry maintaining 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.
Rana was given a year-long business visa and Samraz was here on a tourist visa valid for five years. The two were exempted even from registering with the police if their stay did not exceed 180 days.
Both of them arrived at Mumbai airport on November 12 last year after which they travelled to Kochi in Kerala on November 16.
An associate of a US citizen David Headley, who has also been arrested on terror charges by the FBI last month, Rana and Samraz had stayed in a five star hotel for a night during which they were allegedly looking for recruits for Pakistan- based Lashker-e-Taiba.
Ahead of the Kochi visit, Rana have an advertisement in a prominent English daily asking youths willing to immigrate to US and Canada to appear for interview, sources said.
Rana and his school friend Headley were arrested last month by the FBI on charges of being part of a plan by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) to carry out terror attacks in India and Denmark.
The NIA was also looking for the people who had booked the advertisement in the newspaper. A team of central security agencies had also visited Kochi edition of a prominent english daily to take the details about the people or agency who had booked the advertisement on behalf of Rana. PTI