PDP to approach Centre for passport to Geelani: Mehbooba

Srinagar: Ignoring ally BJP's objections, PDP today said it will ask the Centre to grant passport to separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani on 'humanitarian' grounds even as NC leader Omar Abdullah questioned why it was being made an issue when he has been given passport earlier also.

"This issue has to be dealt with from humanitarian point of view and we will pursue the matter with the Union Home Ministry," PDP president Mehbooba Mufti told PTI.

Hardline Hurriyat faction leader Geelani has applied for a passport to visit his ailing daughter in Saudi Arabia. Several mainstream leaders have called for issuing passport to the separatist leader.

Reacting to the PDP president's statement on the issue, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah wondered if it was 'fixed match' between the ruling allies in which Mehbooba was trying to appear as a 'crusader'.

"What's the big deal? Geelani declined to avail a passport in 2011 so why is Mehbooba suddenly trying to appear as some sort of crusader," Omar said on Twitter. BJP, the coalition partner of PDP in the state government, has said Geelani must apologise for his "anti-national activities" and acknowledge that he is an Indian if he wants an Indian passport.

Omar questioned BJP's objections on the passport issue. "I completely fail to understand why BJP would object to Geelani calling himself an Indian unless this is a PDP-BJP fixed match," he wrote on the micro-blogging site.

Apparently referring to the requirement of declaring nationality as Indian in the application form, the former chief minister said, "If he could get a passport in 2011, there is no reason he can't get one in 2015. He's happy to travel on an Indian passport & citizenship."

The PDP president today said Geelani was issued passport in 2007, 2008 and 2011. "We will tell (Union) Home Ministry that Geelani must be given passport along with his wife and son so that he could visit his ailing daughter in Saudi Arabia. His daughter must not be deprived of seeing her father," Mehbooba said.

She said other separatist leaders including Muhammad Yasin Malik, Shabir Shah and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq already have passports and they have been visiting foreign countries from time to time, including Pakistan. CPI(M) state secretary Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami has also called for issuing the passport to Geelani.

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