January 2003 News

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq's passport suspended

9 January 2003
The Times of India

Srinagar: A day before he was to leave for Dubai, the passport of former Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq was on Thursday suspended for four weeks. Invoking the Passports Act, the Ministry of External Affairs gave the senior Hurriyat leader eight weeks to appeal against the decision. Describing Mirwaiz as a threat to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the government stated that his travel abroad was not in the interest of the country. The Hurriyat leader, however, termed it as a 'political move'. He said it was aimed at sabotaging Hurriyat's peace efforts. The ensuing assembly elections in various states had prompted the decision, Mirwaiz said. Indicating that he might seek a legal recourse to the government's action, he said: 'The recent move by the Centre can only hamper the proposed dialogue process.' Reacting to media reports that he had allegedly been involved in anti-India activities during his visits abroad, Mirwaiz said: 'The Hurriyat leadership does not believe in India-bashing, but whenever we got a chance, whether in the country or outside, we highlighted the Kashmir problem.' Mirwaiz was the only Hurriyat leader in possession of a passport. While Mohammed Yasin Malik was issued a provisional passport when he flew to the US for medical treatment last year, Sheikh Aziz's passport was impounded after his arrest last year, said a Hurriyat spokesman. Other senior leaders, including Hurriyat chairman Abdul Gani Bhat and Syed Ali Geelani, were never issued a passport. The move is part of the Centre's clampdown on separatist leaders, who visited foreign countries on medical grounds, and allegedly carried out vicious anti-India campaigns. Sources said the Centre acted on reports that Mirwaiz was in touch with pro-Pakistan expatriates, ISI operatives and other anti- India elements. Mirwaiz had visited US in September 2002, besides attending Islamic conferences in Gulf countries. He is also reported to have met the ISI director-general at Sharjah.


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