Pakistan misled India on Hafiz Saeed's arrest: Shinde

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, Dec 17 (IANS) Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde Monday said Pakistan had misled India on the arrest of Mumbai terror attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed and the impression created about his detentions for his role as a conspirator in the attack did not match the documents furnished.

Making a statement in the Rajya Sabha a day after Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik concluded his three-day visit to India, Shinde said copies of FIRs and judgments pertaining to previous arrests of the Lashkar-e-Taiba chief made available to India showed the arrests were not for the Mumbai attacks.

"Mr. Rehman Malik has been telling us repeatedly he has arrested Hafiz Saeed thrice and and that on each occasion he was let off by the courts due to lack of evidence. We had been given to understand Hafiz Saeed was arrested on charge of being involved in the 26/11 attacks," Shinde said.

"From the papers given to us, it is clear that the detentions of Hafiz Saeed in the aforesaid cases were for other reasons and not for his role as a conspirator in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Therefore, I can only say that Mr. Rehman Malik appears to have been misinformed in the matter," Shinde said.

"I specially mentioned (to Malik) our investigation showed that Hafiz Saeed was one of the masterminds and Pakistan is still to take effective action to charge him," Shinde said, adding many other key conspirators and participants in the Mumbai attack have not yet been chargesheeted.

The minister said he also emphasised the "value of voice samples for establishing the identities of those who were audacious enough to be caught on tape while directing the attackers" in Mumbai.

"I also emphasised the need to respond to the letter rogatories sent to Pakistan in pursuant to investigation by NIA (National Investigation Agency)," he said.

Shinde said India had given "in principle" approval to visit of a judicial commission from Pakistan to complete cross-examination of four witnesses, and it could come next month.

He said a team from India will visit Pakistan this week to ensure that the revised terms of reference for the panel's visit are worked out carefully in consultation with senior law officers of both sides so that "there is no legal lacunae".

Officials from the home ministry, the NIA and Narcotics Control Bureau will visit Pakistan in January 2013 to operationalise the "task force" on counterfeiting and drug trafficking, he said, adding that home secretaries of the two countries will try to meet in 2013's first quarter.

Shinde also criticised Pakistan's non-compliance of long-pending red corner notices against the 1993 Mumbai blasts accused, in which more than 400 people were killed.

"D-company operatives led by Dawood Ibrahim still evade arrest," he said.

Shinde's statement came after the BJP raised the issue of Rehman Malik's irresponsible statements during Zero Hour in parliament and sought a reply from the government.

Deputy leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ravi Shankar Prasad, said Malik had been lying all along and that this has been brought to light only now.

Meanwhile, reacting to Shinde's statement, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said: "There is no meaning of any government-to-government level talks between India and Pakistan if this is the attitude that Pakistan has. Pakistan does not stand by the commitments it makes."

Rejecting the BJP's demand for suspending talks with Pakistan, Congress spokesperson P.C. Chacko told reporters: "We have to talk to them. There have to be discussions. We should continue to talk in spite of all the differences. Suspending talks or having hostile attitude is not a solution."