India prevents Kashmiri leader from visiting daughter

Indian government refuses to issue passport to Syed Ali Geelani to visit his sick daughter in Saudi Arabia ‘unless he says he is an Indian’

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

India has not approved prominent Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani's request for a passport, which he wishes to use to visit his ailing daughter in United Arab Emirates.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party the says Kashmiri leader has to first accept that "he is an Indian" in order to receive a passport.

While some politicians argue for issuing a passport on "humanitarian grounds," the majority of the hardline members of the government say Geelani has to "apologise for anti-India activities," for his struggle against the Indian occupation of Kashmir.

The status of Kashmir is a large part of the long lasting dispute between Pakistan and India, which originated with the partition of British India in 1947. India has maintained its occupation in the region despite UN Security Council resolutions calling for a fair and impartial vote to enable its people to exercise their right of self-determination and join either Pakistan or India.

They also claim the Kashmiri leader will make "anti-India statements" if he travels to Saudi Arabia.

The Union Home Ministry said on Thursday that the request will be processed on “merit” depending on completion of “formalities” by Geelani, adding no final decision has been made on the issue.

The Kashmiri leader and other family members had requested the passport to visit his daughter Farhat Geelani, who is a teacher in Jeddah and recently underwent surgery.

Geelani is the leader of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, which is a faction of the pro-independence All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), and has been an important figure in the political struggle against Indian occupation in Kashmir for the last four decades.

He defends the Kashmiri people's right to self-determination, and supports a union with Pakistan. He has been boycotting elections in Jammu Kashmir since armed resistance against the occupation started in 1989.

India's Hindu nationalist government has tightened its grip in Jammu Kashmir, implementing an Israeli-style settlement policy of placing tens of thousands of Hindus in Muslim-dominated region. It is first time the Hindu nationalist party has been in power in the state.

Geelani received a passport previously for pilgrimage and other religious visits.

More than 100,000 Kashmiri people have been killed under the occupation, with thousands of people being disappeared and jailed. Many gang rapes of Kashmiri women by Indian forces, torture and the deliberate burning of villages have been widely reported.

TRTWorld and agencies