The Ministry of External Affairs has issued a passport to hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Tuesday after Jammu & Kashmir government recommendation for the issuance of the same on 'humanitarian grounds'.
"J&K Government had written to Ministry of External Affairs which accepted the recommendation. After the MEA nod, his verification was sent to the RPO Srinagar few days ago," a senior official said.
"We have issued passport to Geelani. It was dispatched to his residential address today only," Regional Passport Officer (RPO), Srinagar, Firdous Iqbal told Greater Kashmir.
Geelani and his wife had applied for passport in May this year to visit their ailing daughter, Farhat Jabeen Geelani, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The passport that has been issued to the couple is valid for only nine months.
Geelani has been issued an Indian passport, despite openly saying that he is not an Indian by birth. "I am not Indian by birth. It is a compulsion," he had said in June. It is mandatory for every citizen of India to mention his/her nationality as Indian in order to get a passport to travel abroad.
His application for passport had resulted into a tiff within the ruling alliance government in Jammu & Kashmir. The Peoples Democratic Party was in favour of issuing passport to Geelani as an old father wanted to visit his ailing daughter, but the Bharatiya Janata Party was against it, IANS reports.
The BJP wanted Geelani to accept Jammu & Kashmir's accession to India before his passport application was processed.
Geelani has always challenged the state's accession to India and his anti-India activities led to cancellation of his passport in 1983. He was first issued passport in 1980 to attend the International Islamic Conference in the US.
He again applied for passport later and was issued one in 1995 for Haj. He was last refused a passport in 2011 when the the government said he "failed to fulfill all requirements".