BJP-PDP not on same page over Syed Ali Shah Geelani passport issue
After Masarat Alam, the BJP-PDP are adopting a different approach on another hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Geelani's application for an Indian passport to visit his ailing daughter in Saudi Arabia has again put the two alliance partners on different turfs.
While senior party leader Nayeem Akhter called the issue a humanitarian one, which needs to be treated on humanitarian-level, the state BJP has asked for an apology from the senior separatist leader before passport can be issed to him.
The Geelani group, however, says applying for passport does not mean the separatist leader has compromised on his ideology.
According to party spokesman Ayaz Akbar, Geelani's youngest daughter had suffered paralytic attack and the separatist leader wants to see her.
"Applying for a passport does not make anybody an Indian. It's a compulsion that we need travel documents to get out of the country,'' Akbar said.
While Geelani remains under house arrest, his wife and son had applied on his behalf on Monday for issuance of passport.
Jammu and Kashmir unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said Geelani should acknowledge that he is an Indian and "apologise" for his anti-national activities if he wants to get the passport.
"Passport cannot be given to Geelani sahib till he apologises for the mistakes he has committed during the past 25 years. Passports are issued to Indian citizens and not the ones who don't believe in India and its democracy. If Geelani sahib wants the passport, then has to fall in the line and follow law of the land," BJP spokesman Khalid Jehangir said in a statement.
The same statement was made by BJP leader Subramanium Swamy in Delhi as well.
The PDP again advocated that passport should be given to Geelani on humanitarian ground. "Geelani has asked for passport to visit his ailing daughter not to hold a political rally, we should have so much tolerance in a democracy to allow him to do this,'' said PDP spokesman Waheed Ur Rehman Parra.
According to him, this is not the first time the separatist leader has applied for a passport. "He was given passport by previous regime as well, so there is nothing new. If passport can be given to other separatist he cannot be denied this right,'' Parra added.
Reacting to the statements from BJP leaders regarding apology from Geelani, the PDP leader said that the statement should be given importance only if it comes from the Centre.
"Neither the home ministry nor the external affairs ministry has set any such pre-condition,'' he said.
Geelani remains constantly under surveillance and house arrest since his rally in south Kashmir's Tral area two weeks ago. He has not been allowed to come out for Friday prayers.
Meanwhile, minister of state in Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh said on Tuesday that ministry of external affairs will take a call on Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani's plea for passport for travel to Saudi Arabia on the basis of facts and figures. "The ministry of external affairs (MEA) will take into cognisance the issue and decide on it. I am sure that MEA will take a call on it. I am not in a position to deliver a verdict over it," Singh said.