Separatist Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Friday said that he is not an Indian by birth.
Appearing before passport authorities, Geelani said it is a compulsion that he has to travel with an Indian passport.
The separatist leader, however, wrote ‘Indian’ in the nationality column in his passport application.
Talking to reporters outside the passport office, Geelani said, “I am not by birth Indian. It is a compulsion”.
Notably, the separatist leader had applied for a passport along with his wife and son so that they can visit his ailing daughter in Saudi Arabia.
“Geelani submitted his biometric data — finger prints and iris scan — at the designated counter,” an official of the Regional Passport Office here said.
The 88-year-old hardline Hurriyat leader reached the Passport Seva Kendra here at the scheduled time of his appointment at 10.15 am.
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.
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.
Geelani had been issued a restricted passport for a duration of one year in 2007, 2008 and 2011 but he did not visit Saudi Arabia then.