SRINAGAR: After appearing before the passport authorities on Friday, hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said that he was not an Indian by birth and seeking an Indian passport was his compulsion.
Police on Friday morning lifted the siege around Geelani’s Hyderpora residence to allow him to complete formalities for obtaining a passport to visit his ailing daughter in Saudi Arabia.
Geelani, 85, reached the Regional Passport Office (RPO) at Boulevard road here at around 10.15 am.
“He submitted his biometric data -- finger print and iris scan,” an RPO official said. “He had already mentioned ‘Indian’ in the nationality column of the passport application while submitting the form online. He did not have to mention it today (Friday),” the officials said.
Talking to reporters outside the RPO after completing the necessary formalities for obtaining the passport, Geelani said, “I am not an Indian by birth. It is a compulsion to seek Indian passport”.
The ruling parties in Jammu and Kashmir -- the BJP and the PDP -- have been caught in a tug of war over issuing a passport to Geelani.
While, the PDP favours granting passport to him, the BJP opposes it saying the passport should be issued to him only if he declares himself an Indian and apologises for his anti-India activities.
Geelani’s spokesman said there was no change in his stand. “Geelani, for the last 50 years, openly challenging the forced Indian military presence in J&K and if it is crime then he is a confessional criminal and he will always commit this crime,” he said.
He said freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru too used British travel documents during the resistance movement against them.