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Info on foreign visas will be shared instantly: Centre

Last updated on: December 01, 2009 15:33 IST

Stung by the controversy over issuance of visa to terror suspect Tahawwur Rana, the government has decided to link all offices dealing with providing travel documents to foreigners to ensure sharing of information on a real-time basis.

Under this proposal, the offices of Foreigners' Division, Foreigners' Regional Registration Office, Ministry of External Affairs and all its Missions abroad will be interlinked, Home Minister P Chidambaram said on Tuesday.

 "This project is to ensure that (real-time) kind of connectivity takes place so that information is shared instantly on a real-time basis and decisions can therefore be taken on a real-time basis," he said.

Chidambaram said the FRROs, FROs and the foreigners' division are all now on a "stand-alone" basis with no real-time information sharing when a visa is issued.

"As it was issued by Counsel General in Chicago, there was no real-time information. So what we need is real-time sharing of information among all the offices which are dealing with foreigners," he said.

The move comes in the wake of the reports that the Indian Consulate in Chicago had issued visa to Rana, a Pakistani-Canadian, without referring his case to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

However, the consulate had claimed that there was no need to refer cases where an individual was a Pakistani citizen but had become a citizen of another country and surrendered his citizenship of Pakistan.

"It will be the connectivity between all the foreigners immigration offices, the MEA and all the missions abroad so that they will all be on real-time connectivity that is primarily is the whole purpose," Home Secretary G K Pillai said while describing the revamp of foreigners' divisions.

Rana was arrested by the FBI along with David Coleman Headley, a US citizen, for plotting terror attacks in India and Denmark. Indian officials also suspect their involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes.

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