Srinagar (Shaikh Junaid) 12-Dec-12:On Friday when a resistance leaders’ team would leave for Islamabad, for an old couple it would add salt to their deep wound. It would remained them a ‘mistake- committed at the behest of some people’- by their teen son over two decades ago. A mistake that led to a separation of perhaps a ‘lifetime’.
Gulzar Ahmad Tantray was 18-year-old, when on an early morning in 1990 he left for school, never to return. The son of a government school headmaster crossed over to Pakistan-Kashmir get arms training.
His father, Mohammad Maqbool Tantray, says his son realized the ‘futility’ of armed rebellion and chose to stay in Pakistan administered Kashmir.
Maqbool says he and his wife Habla have been requesting a passport to fulfill their last wish. The couple, who are in their late sixties, want to meet their son.
“We have so far filed three applications for passport but have been denied,” says the retired school headmaster, adding, allowing resistance leader to travel to Islamabad is ‘sprinkling salts on our wound’.
The couple is aghast over the government’s decision to grant passports to resistance leaders. “The government has given passport to even local leaders who instigated my son to cross over. But at the same time have refused travel documents to us even though our son never crossed back to fight against India,” says Maqbool, adding, we are trapped between the “devil and the deep sea”.
Gulzar has married in PaK and owns a pharmacy in Muzzafarabad.
“I don’t understand how a government gives passports to those who are going to talk against it in Islamabad and at the same time deny it to those who want peace to return,” say Habla in her Saloora home close to the district centre.
She say it is her last wish to see her son before she dies.
She cites examples of many former rebels who have been permitted to travel. “We were not even given to travel through the Line of Control,” she says.
New Delhi and Islamabad had allowed movement between people of two Kashmirs through the LoC as a part of Confidence Building Measures in 2005. The travel through LoC doesn’t require passport.
Pertinently, many resistance leaders who were earlier denied passport have been issued this time round. A team of Hurriyat Conference leaders is to leave for Islamabad on Friday.
Even though chief minister Omar Abdullah in July said 6000 persons, who were on the blacklist, have been cleared for passport, the situation at the ground is different.
Sources say thousands of people are being denied passport for having affiliations with political and religious organisations. Both near and distant relatives of former militants are being denied clearance by Police for acquiring passports as they figure in “security index.”
Omar had claimed his government has taken various measures to fast track the security clearance for issuance of passports by the CID.
“We have also cleared 6000 cases this year which were placed in black list. Passport clearance was also given to 2700 Haj pilgrims,” he had said adding that government was considering possibility of bringing passport clearance by CID within the purview of Public Service Guarantee Act to make delivery of this service time bound.
But, Maqbool says he had applied for a passport, to go for Haj pilgrimage, which was denied.
A number of people have filed petitions with the High Court seeking directions to police to clear them for passport.
In 2009 Khurshid Ahmad Sofi son of Habibullah of district Kulgam applied for passport with an intention that he will go for higher studies in United Kingdom.
Sofi had masters in Agricultural Science and had qualified NET. But he was not given passport prompting him to move to the High Court.
“The Government came up with strange reasons for denial of his passport,” says his lawyer Mir Shafqat Hussain.
“It said his brother Abdul Rashid was involved in militancy and he was with Hizbul Mujahideen. The Government also said Rashid surrendered before security forces and was subsequently released,” Hussain says.
“High Court passed directions that for the act of one brother another brother cannot be punished and directed that his passport be released. Despite the Court orders the passport was not issued. We went for contempt. The High Court in contempt petition ordered that the Court order should be implemented in its letter and spirit. Let us see what they will do now,” he says.
A senior police official said government should form a committee to revisit the entire security index list.