New Delhi: 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 on Thursday.

"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 Wednesday.

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 operationalised 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.

Government is understood to have factored Wednesday's suicide attack on a CRPF camp in Srinagar, suspected to be carried out by Pakistan-based terrorist groups, before taking the decision. Five CRPF jawans were killed and 10 others injured in the incident.

According to the visa pact, group tourist visa would be offered for a period of 30 days to tourists travelling in groups with not less than 10 members and not more than 50 members, organised by approved tour operators or travel agents.
The visa on arrival for Pakistani nationals above 65 years was supposed to start at the Attari Integrated Check Post. The new visa agreement between India and Pakistan was signed in September last year to ease cross-border travel as part of a number of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs).
Some clauses of the relaxed visa regime like multiple-entry and reporting-free visas for businessmen and allowing them to travel to five cities instead of the earlier three were operationalised when Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik visited New Delhi in December 2012.
An Indian soldier was beheaded by Pakistani troops while the mutilated body of another was found in January along the LoC. New Delhi had lodged a strong protest over the killings.


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