India on Thursday said the 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed visited the border areas in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir a few days before the killing of two Indian soldiers by the Pakistani army. The government, however, said this incident would not impact the relaxed visa regime formalised last month.

“It has been our information that Hafiz Saeed had entered the PoK area and talked to some people,” Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told journalists here. Though he refrained from linking the killing of the soldiers and heightened tensions along the border with the free movement of the Lashkar-e-Taiba founder in PoK, Mr. Shinde noted that infiltration attempts had increased in Jammu and Kashmir in the last few months.

Pointing out that Indian intelligence agencies had specific inputs on Hafiz Saeed’s movements in PoK four or five days ago, Mr. Shinde said the government was trying to get details of his visit, besides probing whether militants were involved in the raid on the Indian soldiers.

A senior Home Ministry official pointed out that despite serious objections by New Delhi, Islamabad failed to contain the Mumbai terror attack case mastermind, who was walking freely across Pakistan and continuing with his anti-India rhetoric.

Asked whether infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir was on the rise, the Minister said militants in large numbers had been trying to sneak in, in the past two-three months. Some infiltrators might have been involved in the recent attacks on Indian soldiers, he said.

The Minister said the government was not considering putting on hold the new visa regime despite the atmosphere of distrust and tension along the border. “Whatever agreement has been entered into will be carried out. There is no rethinking on the visa agreement,” he added.

No decision yet on Afzal issue

On the pending mercy petition of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru, Mr. Shinde said he was yet to take a decision. “I could not see the file as I was busy handling the situation arising out of the [December 16, 2012] gang rape in Delhi. When the President sends something to me for the second time that means I have to go deep into the case and study it in detail… I will send the government’s recommendation to the President as soon as possible.”

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