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JEHANGIR ALI | 17 MAY, 2015

MUFTI GOVERNMENT MIGHT GIVE PASSPORT TO GEELANI

The Hurriyat leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani


SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir government is considering to facilitate the process of issuing travel documents to pro-Pakistan Hurriyat leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a senior Cabinet Minister said.

Intending to visit Saudi Arabia to see his daughter Farhat Jabeen Geelani who is not keeping well, 86-year old Geelani applied for passport with Regional Passport Office here Friday.

“The government is positively looking at it. There has been a debate going on the denial of right to travel to him (Geelani) for quite a long time,” a senior cabinet minister said.

“It should not be a problem, particularly at this point of time when he (Geelani) intends to visit his daughter. His intent to apply for passport is purely personal and not political in nature, and therefore there shall be no problem in issuing travel documents to him,” he said.

Authorities have denied travel documents to Geelani on many occasions, mostly on "security" grounds for his views on Kashmir issue.

During the National Conference-Congress government in 2011, the pro-freedom leader applied for passport after doctors advised him to travel abroad for specialised treatment. Geelani was suffering for a kidney ailment.

His application was however turned down.

Two years later, authorities denied him passport again when he was invited to speak at a conference in the neighbouring Islamabad.

"Also, as far as the issuance of the passport is concerned, there is no serious case registered against him,” the minister said.

The octogenarian leader, known in Kashmir for his unwavering stand, has been presently placed under house-arrest at his Srinagar residence, hours after his address to a massive rally in Tral town of Pulwama.

The rally took place days after a civilian - brother of a top Hizbul Mujahideen militant - was shot dead by the Indian Army.

Issuing travel documents to Geelani would be a test for J&K chief minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, who has been repeatedly talking of ‘battle of ideologies’ to give political space to separatists.

“The non-issuance of passport (to Geelani) is a grave violation of basic human rights and it has no moral or constitutional justification,” a Hurriyat spokesman said on Thursday.

“Geelani sahab is very desirous to see his ailing daughter but due to non availability of travel documents, this has not been possible for him so far.”

Geelani’s daughter is married in Meerut but she has been living with her husband in Riyadh for several years.

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