Former National Conference (NC) MLA Altaf Ahmad Wani alias Kalloo was on Thursday evening prevented from flying to Dubai from Delhi International Airport, with immigration officials reportedly informing him that politicians from Kashmir were not allowed to fly abroad.
Following the episode, sources said, the blanket order — issued in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019 — is being reviewed by the government. Henceforth, politicians from Kashmir would not be prevented from flying abroad unless there is any specific input about their prospective involvement in any anti-India activity there, the sources added.
Wani, who is a former MLA from Pahalgham, was booked on a Dubai-bound Vistara flight along with his family members, and was stopped at immigration just before it was to leave from Delhi airport at around 8 pm.
Sources said the airport authorities told him about an order against letting politicians from J&K travel out of the country, and advised him to get special permission from the Srinagar CID, even as they allowed his family members to take the flight.
Wani, who was among the politicians detained on August 4, 2019, ahead of the scrapping of special status for Jammu and Kashmir, told The Indian Express, “After checking in, my family and I were going through immigration when I was pulled aside and asked to wait in a room.” He said immigration officials told him after a while that they had sought permission from the CID office in Srinagar to let him take the flight. “I believe the permission did not come through, the officials cited a technicality and said I cannot fly out of the country. Later, some officers of the J&K Police intervened and I was allowed to leave the airport.”
A Home Ministry official told The Indian Express, “The matter is being sorted. The blanket ban on travel of Kashmiri politicians is also being reviewed. It had come in the wake of Shah Faesal attempting to fly to Turkey right after the August 5 decision. Unfortunately, the order has not been reviewed by the UT administration since then.”
Faesal had been detained by immigration authorities on August 14, 2019, ahead of taking a flight to Istanbul from Delhi. The reason given was “perception of threat to public order due to his activities”, based on a report from the J&K administration. He was subsequently handed over to the J&K Police, which detained him under Section 107 of the CrPC, followed by the stringent Public Safety Act.
A request was then sent to immigration authorities to not allow any Kashmir politician, many of whom served months under detention, to fly abroad. Wani himself was released from detention after six months, in February.
Still in Delhi, the NC leader said he had faced no hassles securing a visa and had flown to Delhi from Srinagar “without any red flags at the airport”. ” I was travelling to Dubai for my niece’s engagement on Saturday… I wish this had been conveyed to me before I left Srinagar because this has caused unnecessary distress to my family,” Wani said.
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