India puts on hold group visa facility with Pakistan

NEW DELHI (TIP): With the attack in Srinagar adding to concerns over cross-border terrorism, the government has opted against implementing the proposed group tourist visa facility under the liberalised visa regime with Pakistan from March 15, an official said March 14. “The group tourist visa facility under the liberalised visa regime agreed by India and Pakistan will not be implemented from March 15,” a home ministry official said. While lack of preparation is being cited as a reason for the visa agreement not being implemented, sources said India was concerned about attempts at infiltration from across the border.

Two terrorists and five Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in terror attack in Srinagar on March 13. India had in January put on hold visa-on-arrival facility for senior citizens following heightened tension along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir over brutal killing of two Indian soldiers. Under the liberalised visa agreement, the group tourist visa for 30 days was to be implemented from March 15. The agreement said that group visas will be issued for not less than 10 members and not more than 50 members in each group, organized by approved tour operators and travel agents. Officials said that lists of tour operators had not been exchanged with Pakistan. The liberalised visa agreement was operaitonalised during Pakistan interior minister Rehman Malik’s visit to India in December, 2012. The officials said no new date had yet been decided to implement the group visa facility.

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