THE Centre has issued passports to J&K separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and his mother with permission to visit one country, Saudi Arabia, for pilgrimage. Sources said while the government was initially reluctant to grant the passports to Mirwaiz, the leader of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, it later agreed to his request to “take his mother for pilgrimage to Mecca”.The Hurriyat leader had reportedly applied for renewal of his passport to go to Saudi Arabia for Umrah. His Short Validity Passport (SVP) had not been renewed since 2013 and he had not been allowed to travel abroad for the past five years.
The separatist leader was reportedly handed over the passports last month. “But it seems he has changed his plan and is not sure if he would travel,” a source said.
“Mirwaiz had applied for a passport to take his mother for Umrah. With the administration raising several objections and creating hurdles, it was pending for months. When it was brought to the attention of BJP leaders, they felt his demand was genuine, so they persuaded the Central government,” the source said.
BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, in-charge of J&K, intervened in the matter. According to a source, he took up the matter with the Home Ministry as “the request was for a genuine cause — for a pilgrimage”.
When contacted, Mirwaiz did not confirm or deny receiving his travel documents. However, he told The Sunday Express he has no plans to go to Mecca this year.
In 2016, Mirwaiz had been invited for an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting at the UN Headquarters in New York, but neither him nor other separatist leaders were issued the SVP.
Most of the leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference have been denied travel documents by the Central government. However, Syed Ali Geelani was granted permission to travel to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia in 2015 to visit his ailing daughter.