As former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has written a letter to Foreign Minister S Jaishankar asking for his intervention to release her passport, she has also said it has become a norm to arbitrarily reject passport applications of thousands including journalists, students and others by misusing national interest as a pretext.
“Adaab. I am writing to you about a matter that has dragged on needlessly for the last three years. My mother and I applied for passport renewal in March 2020. J&K CID gave an adverse report that issuing passports to my eighty-year-old mother and me would undermine national security. In J&K it has become the norm to arbitrarily reject passport applications of thousands including journalists, students and others by misusing national interest as a pretext,” the letter reads.
“We moved J&K High Court and after the case dragged on for three years, the Court gave clear directions that the Regional Passport Office in Srinagar shouldn't operate as CID's mouthpiece by denying passports on vague grounds,” the letter says.
In January, Jammu and Kashmir High Court passed strictures against the passport officer for denying the passport to Mehbooba Mufti's mother, asking him to consider the application for re-issuance of her passport saying, “Passport officer has not to act as a mouthpiece of the CID (nodal agency). When authority is vested with the power, the same is to be exercised judiciously and not arbitrarily as has been done in the instant case.”
“Simply on the basis of the report of the J&K CID, which did not recommend issuing passports, the passport officer under the provisions of the Passport Act has not to shut his eyes and to act on that," the High Court had said.
In her letter, Mehbooba says in her case, she was asked to approach the Passport Authority of India which she has done multiple times since 2021.
“Unfortunately, I have not received a positive response yet. The inordinate and deliberate delay in issuing my passport is a grave violation of my fundamental right. If suspending my basic rights in a democracy like ours is done with such brazen impunity and contempt, one can't even imagine what an ordinary Kashmiri goes through” she says.
“My daughter Iltija applied for her passport renewal in June 2022. Her application to is in limbo and it seems that the Passport Office in Srinagar is yet again failing to discharge its duty. For the past three years, I have been waiting eagerly to take my mother on a pilgrimage to Mecca. As a daughter, I feel pained and anguished to be unable to fulfil such a simple wish because of petty politics," she says.
“I write to you hoping that you will look into the matter urgently.”