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Intelligence foxed by Pak hardliner's India visit

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | July 15, 2003 19:55 IST
Last Updated: July 16, 2003 19:50 IST

Indian intelligence agencies are foxed by Pakistan Senator Maulana Fazlur Rehman's proposed visit to Deoband, the centre of Islamic studies, 146 km north of Delhi.

Rehman, chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, crossed into India via the Wagah border in Punjab's Amritsar district on Tuesday morning, traveling by his own vehicle. He visited the Golden Temple before going to Chandigarh on his way to Deoband. Since he is an MP in his country, he does not need a visa to travel to India. A SAARC agreement permits MPs and judges from SAARC nations to travel to each other's countries without a visa.

Rehman is accompanied by JUI Vice-President Hafiz Hussain Ahmed and fellow MPs Gul Naseeb and Qazi Hameedullah. They are making a visit at the invitation of India's Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind.

He told journalists in Chandigarh that he had come to India to help ease tensions between India and Pakistan. 'I do not wish to contribute to hightening of tensions between the two countries,' he said. According to his hosts in Delhi, he is expected to spend two days in Deoband before coming to Delhi.

Rehman last visited India in 1995 just as five foreigners were kidnapped by terrorists in Pahalgam. He fled Delhi and sought shelter in Deoband for a couple of days. Rehman was also a candidate for the prime ministership of Pakistan after last October's election, but lost the battle to Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali. 

A senior IPS officer told rediff.com that though Rehman is a member of  the Pakistan senate and hence free to come and go, his links with the Harkat ensured that the intelligence agencies would keep him under surveillance during his stay in India. 

Saharanpur Senior Superintendent of Police V P Jodhan said Rehman is expected to reach Deoband late on Tuesday. "We are unsure about his movements, but we will be following him for sure," Jodhan told rediff.com on the telephone.


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