CM in a tight spot over Geelani's intent to visit Saudi Arabia

  • Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: May 15, 2015 22:45 IST

Hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani, who applied afresh for travel documents to visit Saudi Arabia on Friday, may once again put chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in a tight spot.

Confirming that Geelani (86) applied online for the passport to visit Saudi Arabia, Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar told the Hindustan Times that the separatist leader's younger daughter Farhat Jabeen Geelani is not keeping well these days.

"She is suffering for serious nerve problems and is looking forward to see her father. Geelani sahib is very much attached to her too and is desperate to see her," said Akbar.

Married in Meerut, Farhat, in her 30s, is staying with her husband in Saudi Arabia's capital Jeddah for several years now.

The hardline Hurriyat spokesman said his party is hopeful to get the travel documents. "This is not a political trip but purely a humanitarian issue. We are hopeful to get the papers," he said.

Srinagar passport officer Firdous Iqbal said Geelani's application will be processed like any others. "Given his age and health, we can expedite processing of his papers. He has to follow the rules though," Iqbal told HT.

Geelani applying for travel documents has always got caught in a political knot in the past. In 2011, Geelani applied for the passport to travel abroad for specialized treatment for his kidney ailment. However, the travel documents were refused by the then government saying Geelani failed to fulfill all requirements. In 2013, he was again not allowed to visit Pakistan.

Chief minister Sayeed, also state home minister, may see himself again in a tight spot, being a votary of free movement of separatists and right to express their "dissent within limits."

Sayeed also proposed a formal dialogue with the Hurriyat in the common minimum programme 'Agenda of Alliance' to resolve Kashmir problem.

Though Geelani remains constantly under surveillance and house arrest since his rally in south Kashmir's Tral area two weeks ago, he was disallowed to come out for Friday congregational prayers.

"The government move to put Geelani under house arrest today seems like the last nail in the coffin of the Sayeed's so-called approach of 'battle of ideas'," said Akbar.

A top police official, on the condition of anonymity, said, "Let him apply. He will go through the routine exercise."

The government, as of now, remains indecisive whether to allow Geelani fly to Saudi Arabia nor not.

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