The row which has created fissures between the ruling partners PDP and BJP in Jammu and Kashmir government now rests with the Union Home Ministry. It is about the separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s demand for an Indian passport. The Home Ministry has told the hardliner that passport will be issued on “merits” depending on the completion of formalities.
“Passport is the right of every Indian citizen and is issued by the Ministry of External Affairs after following due process. In case any applicant applies for the passport, he should fulfil all the formalities before his case is processed. As and when the matter is referred to the Ministry of Home Affairs, we will process the case on merit,” a Home Ministry spokesperson said.
Geelani and his family members want to travel to Jeddah on a personal visit and have applied for passports online. According to reports, Jammu and Kashmir’s ruling coalition partners PDP and BJP are sharply divided over the Geelani passport issue.
PDP has advocated before the Center that Geelani and his family may be given passport on “humanitarian” grounds but some leaders in the BJP felt he should not be given the travel document till he “apologises” for his anti-national activities.
However, Geelani is yet to visit the regional passport office in Srinagar to give his biometric data and clicking the photograph. Only once he has completed all the procedures, his application will be sent to the MHA and MEA for the requisite clearance.
Meanwhile, the Congress party flayed the ruling combine in J&K government over this issue, especially with Geelani’s name surfacing in an incident where a Pakistan national flag was waved in Srinagar.
“It is not good to wave the flag of another nation on our soil,” the Congress party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed replied to a question at a presser in Jammu.
“I do not know the reason (why Geelani has been denied a passport). If somebody wants a passport to meet his daughter or travel abroad for treatment of some ailment or to attend relatives’ marriage, it is a matter of the governments to take a call on it,” he added.
On the other hand Centre blamed Congress, claiming the principal opposition party is playing politics over Geelani’s passport issue.
“We have not taken any decision on the issue. When we take a decision, the whole country will know. The Congress is just unnecessarily playing politics on the issue. It is not good in national interest,” MoS for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju told the press.
The BJP-ruled Union government is of view that a decision on granting passport to Geelani will be taken considering various issues, including national security. Geelani was issued passport in 2007, 2008 and 2011 with a validity of one year in each time