New Delhi, Dec 17: Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde today debunked his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik's claim that Islamabad had thrice arrested Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed for his role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
"Malik appears to have been misinformed in the matter," Shinde informed the Rajya Sabha. He cited Malik's averment that "Saeed was arrested on the charges of being a part of the conspiracy for the 26\11 Mumbai terror attacks".
Shinde said that the Interior Minister of Pakistan had offered to provide India "the FIRs and the judgements pertaining to the three occasions when Hafiz Saeed was arrested and let off by courts". Islamabad later handed over "papers pertaining to the detentions of Saeed in 2002 and 2009", Shinde recounted.
"From the papers given to us, it is clear that the detentions of Hafiz Saeed in the aforesaid cases were for other reasons and not for his role as a conspirator in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks," the Home Minister said.
He pointed out that Malik "has been telling us repeatedly that he had arrested Saeed thrice and that, on each occasion, he was let off by the courts for lack of evidence."
Reacting to Shinde's statement, Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP said that action is not likely to be taken against Saeed as the LeT founder enjoys "the protection of the Pakistan government".
Prasad slammed the Home Minister for remaining "conspicuously silent" when Malik interfered in "the internal affairs of India" by raising the Babri Masjid issue during his visit. Incidentally, Malik had even alleged that key 26/11 handler Abu Jundal is a RAW agent.
"If this was to be done, then why was he (Malik) called," Prasad demanded to know. Subsequently, other members of the Upper House called for a discussion. Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien said that they can take up the "serious issue".