'Not Indian by birth, passport a compulsion': Govt slams Geelani's 'separatist jargon'

Srinagar: The Indian government has slammed Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani after he said that travelling with an Indian passport was a compulsion for him and "he was not an Indian by birth." Geelani on Friday appeared at the passport office to declare himself Indian while completing formalities for travel documents but insisted that he did it out of 'compulsion'.

Reacting strongly to Geelani's statement, Jitendra Singh, Minister of State, PMO told Times Now that such separatist jargon will not be tolerated. "Won't tolerate separatist jargon. Kashmir is integral part of India," said Singh.

The 88-year-old hardline leader had mentioned 'Indian' in the nationality column at the passport office. But talking to reporters outside the passport office, he said, "I am not by birth Indian. It is a compulsion".

Syed Ali Shah Geelani. AFP

Syed Ali Shah Geelani. AFP

A Hurriyat spokesman justified Geelani writing Indian in the nationality column saying "travelling on the Indian passport is a compulsion of every Kashmiri". "Geelani too is compelled to complete the formalities in this regard," he added.

Geelani, who wants to visit his ailing daughter in Saudi Arabia, reached the Passport Seva Kendra and submitted his biometric data, finger prints and iris scan, at the designated counter, according to an official of the Regional Passport Office.

The issue of granting Geelani passport had sparked a political debate with ruling BJP opposing it saying that he should declare his nationality as Indian and apologise for his anti-national activities. However, its ally PDP had favoured it while former chief minister Omar Abdullah had said it was not an issue as Geelani had been given passport in the past too.

The Home and External Affairs ministries had a fortnight back said that Geelani's passport application was incomplete and could not be processed.

The Centre had said it will examine Geelani's application on merit once he completes all formalities.

"An incomplete passport application was received from him (Geelani). Fees were not paid and the biometric details and photographs not submitted," Spokesperson in MEA Vikas Swarup had said.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Jun 05, 2015 16:52 PM

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