Pak never arrested Saeed for 26/11 attacks: Shinde

New Delhi: Calling Pakistan's bluff, India on Monday said JuD chief Hafiz Saeed had never been arrested in connection with Mumbai terror attacks even though its Interior Minister Rehman Malik claimed so.

Making a statement in both Houses of Parliament, Home Minister Sushil kumar Shinde said Malik, who just concluded his visit here, was "misinformed" about the actual reasons for the arrest of Saeed whom India blames as the main conspirator in the 26/11 attacks.

"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. Therefore, I can only say that Rehman Malik appears to have been misinformed in the matter," Shinde said in Rajya Sabha, where BJP sought to corner the government, alleging that it had not responded strongly to controversial comments made by the Pakistan minister.

Shinde noted 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.

"We had been given to understand by the Interior Minister of Pakistan that Hafiz Saeed had been arrested on charges of being a part of the conspiracy for the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks," he said.

He said when India pursued the matter, Pakistan had given the papers pertaining to the detention of Saeed in 2002 and 2009.

During his talks with Malik, Shinde said Pakistan has been told that it was of "paramount importance" to bring those guilty of the terror strikes to justice to ensure that the Indo-Pak peace process proceeds in an atmosphere free of terrorism and violence.

"On a larger plane, it was stated that terrorism is affecting all aspects of the relationship and that we must deal with this menace effectively," he said.

In the Lok Sabha, senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha demanded that no talks should be held with Pakistan till the culprits of Mumbai terror attacks and the prime conspirator Saeed were handed over to India by Islamabad.

Maintaining that Malik's statements during the visit had "hurt the prestige of the country", he attacked Shinde for not countering his Pakistani counterpart and remaining "silent" during the entire period.

In the Rajya Sabha, BJP Deputy Leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said it was "a deliberate design" by Pakistan not to take action against Saeed as he enjoyed "the protection of the Pakistan government", adding that this was "very disturbing".

He charged Shinde with being "conspicuously silent" on many contentious issues raised by Malik during his visit, including that of the Babri Masjid demolition which he termed as "interference in the internal affairs of India."

In his statement, Shinde said he especially mentioned to Pakistan the fact that "our investigations have shown that Hafiz Saeed was one of the masterminds of the 26/11 attack conspiracy and Pakistan has yet to take effective action to charge him."