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'No rules violated in giving visa to Rana'

By Lalit K Jha and Ajay Kaul
November 26, 2009 13:30 IST
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Indian Consul General in Chicago Ashok Atri, embroiled in a controversy over visa issued to Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative Tahawwur Hussain Rana, has met Union External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and said that no rules had been violated in giving him the travel document, as he had submitted all proper papers for the same.

Atri, who also met National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, explained that no wrong-doing had occurred on part of the Consulate as Rana, a Canadian national of Pakistani origin, appeared to be a bonafide normal traveler to India for business.

Rana was arrested along with Pakistani origin American national David C Headley by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for planning major terror attacks in India on behest of Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

As part of the plan, Rana had visited India several times on the visa issued by the Indian Consulate in Chicago. The Consul General told Krishna and others that no exception had been made to give visa to Rana and that his office had routinely put the 'discretionary' stamp on it.

Atri, a 1975-batch Indian Foreign Service officer, said as per an August 2005 circular of the home ministry, the Chicago Consulate was not required to send the visa applications of Pakistan-origin people to New Delhi and could process these in Chicago itself, the sources told PTI.

The circular said that except 43 countries, which did not include the United States and Canada, there was no need for prior approval of the homeĀ  ministry for issuing visas to Pakistani origin citizens, the Consul General told the minister and the top officials, showing the documents in this regard.

The same circular was repeated in May 2007, they said. Atri also clarified that Rana had submitted proper documents as proof of his 6018 North Campbell Avenue, Chicago, residence which included original notice of property tax by the Treasury Department.

The clarification came in the wake of reports that Rana had submitted fake residential proof to get visa. Rana had also submitted two letters by an American citizen Raymond J Sanders, said to be his business partner, recommending visa for Rana, the IFS officer is said to have told Krishna.

Sanders is owner of Mumbai Immigration Law Centre located at Dewan Avenue in Chicago, Atri told the government with documents. He said this in the wake of reports that letters of a non-existent company had been furnished to secure the visa and the consulate did not check up.

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Lalit K Jha and Ajay Kaul in Washington, DC
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