March 2007 News

US refuses visa to Kashmiri leader

21 March 2007
The Dawn

New Delhi: Kashmiri resistance leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani was admitted to a Mumbai cancer hospital on Wednesday after the United States denied him a medical visa apparently because of his steadfast views on Islam and Palestine among other raging issues, his relatives said. The 78-year old leader, who also differs sharply with India and Pakistan over their dialogue on the Kashmir dispute, is suffering from cancer in his surviving kidney. The other one was removed five years ago for malignancy. Mr Geelani's family sources said that he was shifted to the Tata cancer hospital in Mumbai after developing severe pain in the affected kidney. The Indian government, never at ease with Mr Geelani's relentless criticism of its policies in the Valley, had recently given him a passport to travel abroad for treatment on humanitarian grounds. But Mr Geelani was not that lucky with the Americans. In a detailed interview he gave to US visa officials in Delhi, he was asked about his views on virtually every raging issue from Iraq and Palestine to Afghanistan and Kashmir. US embassy officials in New Delhi were quoted as saying that 'since Geelani's name is included in the global list of Islamists, permission for granting visa has been sought from Washington.' But the wait may already be too late for Mr Geelani as he had to be rushed to deal with the painful ordeal right away.


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