Sunday October 21, 2018
Home Politics To give or no...

To give or not to give: Issue over Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s passport

0
//
102
Republish
Reprint

 

20TH-OPED-GEELANI_165693f

By NewsGram Staff Writer

The passport issue of separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, has put the two alliance partners, BJP and PDP on two different turfs.

BJP has openly objected to the granting of the Indian passport to Geelani. They have demanded an apology from Geelani’s side for his anti- national activities.

“Passport cannot be given to Geelani sahib till he apologises for the mistakes he has committed during the past 25 years.  Passports are issued to Indian citizens and not the ones who don’t believe in India and its democracy. If Geelani sahib wants the passport, then has to fall in the line and follow law of the land,” BJP spokesman Khalid Jehangir was reported as saying in media reports.

This statement was echoed by BJP leader Subramanium Swamy in Delhi as well.

However PDP (People’s Democratic Party) has advocated that the passport should be issued to Geelani on “humanitarian grounds”.

As per media reports PDP spokesman Waheed Ur Rehman Parra said, “Geelani has asked for passport to visit his ailing daughter not to hold a political rally, we should have so much tolerance in a democracy to allow him to do this”.

“He was given passport by previous regime as well, so there is nothing new. If passport can be given to other separatist he cannot be denied this right,” he added.

In 1981, Geelani’s passport was seized by authorities but because of an intervention by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2007, his travel documents were released on medical grounds for travelling to United States. At that time, the passport was issued on Tatkal basis and it was valid for just one year.

Geelani had applied for an Indian visa, to visit his ailing daughter in Saudi Arabia.

Ayaz Akbar, Geelani’s spokesperson, was reported as saying that the separatist leader has applied for a passport purely on personal grounds and not to carry out any political activity.

“It is a humanitarian issue of a father meeting his daughter. We are not ready to beg before the government if they refuse. It would be a violation of basic human rights of an individual. Geelani sahib is not going on a ‘political trip’ to Jeddah but only wishing to meet his daughter who is terminally ill there,” he said.

Amidst all the debate, the Minister of State in PMO, Jitendra Singh was reported as saying in the media, “There is mechanism in place. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) will take a call on the basis of whatever the facts. Government of India (GoI) and MEA will take a call depending on all the facts and figures.”

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 NewsGram

Next Story

What Would Be The Outcome Of The Judgement On Homosexuality With BJP At The Centre?

If parties like the BJP and "cultural" organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation.

0
Flag Of BJP, homosexuality
Ruling on gays: Is the BJP out of sync with modern realities? Flickr

More than the social impact of the Supreme Court’s judgment on homosexuality, what will be of concern to the ruling party at the Centre is its political fallout. Hence, the eloquent silence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the subject.

For the BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), any expansion of the concept of civil liberties is fraught with danger to their restrictive worldviews since a widening of human rights carries the prospect of greater individualism.

If the rights of the homosexuals to live without legal constraints are conceded, it can only encourage the people to free themselves of other restrictions as well such as on choosing live-in partners (of whatever sex) and eating, dressing and speaking as they please.

Homosexuality, India
SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

It is noteworthy that the verdict on gays has come close on the heels of the judgment which described the right to dissent as a “safety valve” which the government can only shut off at its peril lest there is an explosion.

Moreover, the court had also upheld not long ago the right to privacy which the government described as an “elitist” concept.

For the Hindu Right, as also for other religious fundamentalists, this dalliance with civil rights — the freedom to criticise the government, the exaltation of privacy and now the decriminalisation of homosexuality — entails a push towards liberalism and modernism which are anathema to any group which wants the society to be bound by shackles of orthodoxy and obscurantism.

It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.

Now that one of them is gone, there is little doubt that these closet followers of Britain’s 19th century politician Lord Macaulay — even as they decry the secular groups as “Macaulay’s children” — will hold on resolutely to the law on sedition as their only safeguard against the “anti-nationals” who, they believe, stalk the land.

Homosexuality
It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.
Wikimedia Commons

It is also possible that the saffronites will keep a hawk’s eye on any social problems that may arise because of the assertion of gay rights. As the BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has said, with eager anticipation, if a five-judge bench can overturn an earlier judgment in favour of criminalising homosexuality, a larger bench can undo the present verdict if gay bars begin to flourish and there is a rise in the cases of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections.

Interestingly, what these judgments underline is how the judiciary is more attuned to the changing world than the elected representatives of the hoi polloi who often argue in favour of giving greater primacy to the legislature than the judiciary since they claim to represent the people while the judges are unelected denizens of an ivory tower.

However, one possible reason why MPs and MLAs, especially of the BJP, seem to be out of sync with the present-day world is the presence in their midst of a large number of criminal elements who can hardly be regarded as the most progressive sections of society.

For instance, of the 543 elected members of the Lok Sabha, of whom 186 have a criminal record, 63 belong to the BJP, followed by eight of the Shiv Sena, four of the Trinamool Congress and three each of the Congress and the AIADMK.

Homosexuality
Gay Pride Procession. Pixabay

What the Supreme Court judgment appears to have done is to persuade parties like the Congress, which usually hedges its bets lest it should fall on the wrong side of public opinion, to come out in the verdict’s favour, presumably because it senses that this judgment, more than any other, has become a touchstone in the matter of breaking out from the stranglehold of the past.

To distance a party from it, as the BJP is doing, will amount to virtually alienating the entire youth community. Even if a majority among them do not have homosexual instincts — according to official figures, there are 2.5 million gay people in India, but this may be an underestimate since, till now, it was unsafe for them to reveal their sexual orientation — the youths nevertheless see the ruling as an assertion of living life on one’s own terms and not be held hostage by the dictates of a society steeped in conservatism and of political parties which believe that their agenda can only advanced if the country is made forcibly to conform to khap panchayat-style social and cultural norms.

Also Read: Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Instant

To these youths, being or not being aware of homosexuality is of little consequence. What matters to them is to be able to make up their own minds and not be told by elders to abide by certain rules which are regarded as outdated by the younger generation.

If parties like the BJP and “cultural” organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation. (IANS)