MEA Rejects Geelani's Application

21 May 2015
The Hindu

Srinagar: The External Affairs Ministry has rejected the passport application of Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani as he had not mentioned his nationality in the form. Mr. Geelani told The Hindu: 'I have not filled the nationality column and left it blank as we live in an internationally recognised disputed territory.' The Ministry, in a statement, said Mr. Geelani's application could not be processed as he had submitted an 'incomplete' form. He had not met the prerequisites for seeking a passport, including payment of the application fee and submission of biometric details and photographs. 'The application cannot be processed in its present form,' the statement said. The Hurriyat leader, who had sought a passport as he wanted to visit his ailing daughter in Saudi Arabia, said he could not submit the biometric details as he was under house arrest and was not allowed to move out to complete the requisite formalities at the passport office. A senior Home Ministry official said Mr. Geelani had been issued an Indian passport in 2007 and 2009. 'He would not have got those passports had he not filled the nationality column,' said the official, adding that the Hurriyat leader had declared his nationality as Indian on previous occasions. Denying the government's claim that Mr. Geelani has not paid the fee, his son, Syed Naseem, has made public the details of the payment receipt: reference no. CP 20175523 for payment of Rs. 2,000 on May 21. On Wednesday, Pakistan had extended support to Mr. Geelani, pointing out that it was a humanitarian issue. The ruling Peoples Democratic Party in Jammu and Kashmir is also in favour of granting travel papers to the separatist leader. Stating that he did not look at it as a political issue, Mr. Geelani said: 'If the PDP tries to sell my passport to Kashmiris as a confidence-building measure after its alliance with the BJP, I don't think it will fetch much.' Mr. Geelani's passport was first frozen in 1981 after his return from the United States. He was, however, allowed to travel for the Haj pilgrimage on a special Haj visa in 2006. Though the government issued a fresh passport to him in 2007 for treatment in the U.S., he was denied a visa by U.S. agencies.'We have nothing against giving passport to Geelani sahib,' said Pir Mansoor, senior PDP leader and political secretary to party president Mehbooba Mufti. 'It is not only the PDP's view but also the State government's,' he said. The BJP appeared to be on the same page, with the party spokesperson in Jammu, Arun Gupta, saying: 'It is a decision that rests with the External Affairs Ministry. We may have a point of view different from the PDP's, but we are not opposing their statements.'