Geelani should declare himself Indian for passport, says Parrikar
Separatist Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani should declare he is an Indian to get a passport, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Thursday.
"If he wants to apply for a passport, he will have to fill the form and declare he is Indian," said the minister at the 'Manthan' conclave organised by TV channel Aaj Tak.
"That will be the first round of victory... all separatists should be made to apply for a passport," he said.
Geelani has applied for a passport along with his wife and son so that they can visit his ailing daughter in Saudi Arabia.
The government earlier said the passport application of Geelani cannot be processed in its present form, noting that it was incomplete.
Hours after the Union home ministry said the request will be processed on "merit" as the travel document is the "right of every Indian citizen", the external affairs ministry asserted that "the application cannot be processed in its present form".
"We have seen media reports of Syed Ali Geelani's passport application. An incomplete passport application was received from him. Fees were not paid and the biometric details and photographs not submitted," MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
The spokesperson's response came after sources had said that the ministries of home affairs and external affairs will take a decision on the issue in consultation with the Jammu and Kashmir government only after Geelani visits the nearest passport office for biometrics.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar, meanwhile, said Geelani will have to write 'Indian' in the nationality column to apply for the passport.
"Passport is the right of every Indian citizen and is issued by the Ministry of External Affairs after following due process. In case any applicant applies for the passport, he should fulfil all the formalities before his case is processed. As and when the matter is referred to the ministry of home affairs, we will process the case on merit," a home ministry spokesperson said.
Jammu and Kashmir's ruling coalition partners PDP and BJP are sharply divided over the Geelani passport issue.
PDP has said it would approach the Centre for giving passport to Geelani on "humanitarian" grounds while BJP has said he should not be given the travel document till he "apologises" for his anti-national activities.
Sources said Geelani and his family members want to travel to Jeddah and have applied for passports online.
But he has not yet visited the regional passport office in Srinagar to give his biometric data and clicking the photograph. As per the new rules, an applicant must visit the passport office in person to give biometric details and click the photograph.