Monday, January 5, 2009

For visiting other Kashmir at the age of 10 in 1965, 55 year old put on deportation list


Srinagar, Jan 5: In October 2008, Abdul Wahid Bhat, a resident of Khanyar in old city of Srinagar Kashmir, was relaxing in his home when policemen conveyed to him that he is on deportation list. He was asked to leave India in 15 days. 

 “I was shocked at first,” Wahid says. “My family is here, my children are here, relatives here and still I am told to leave Jammu and Kashmir, my birth place in 15 days. At this age where will I go? ” he asks.  

 In 1965, Abdul Wahid Bhat, then ten years old, along with his aunt went to Azad Jammu and Kashmir on a valid document. He said his aunt had children in AJK who had left Kashmir in 1947. He stayed there for three months. And soon, on September 5, 1965 India-Pakistan war broke out and continued till September 17, 1965. 

 During the war he had reached Wagah border to cross to India but he was pushed back. He stayed back in other Kashmir. His aunt died there. Later, he said, his father and mother traveled to AJK and brought him back here after he obtaining Pakistani passport for traveling to Kashmir.

 Back home, he surrendered Pakistani passport before the Indian authorities and started living as a bonafide citizen of Jammu and Kashmir. 

 But in 1980, police registered an FIR under Foreigners Act against him in the police station Khanyar. Subsequently, in 1983 a challan was presented before the Court. He pleaded in the Court that he didn’t acquire Pakistani passport voluntarily. He faced the trial and after eight years, the Court acquitted him. 

 Wahid says for past 29 years he has run his family business and has not violated any condition of citizenship of being permanent resident of the state. He is also enrolled by the Election Commission of India as permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir.   

 But still in October 2008, he was shocked when secretary Home Department Government of India through CID informed him to leave India and the Jammu and Kashmir state. “I went to Home Department but they didn’t handover the deportation order to me,” he says. 

 Forced by the circumstances he went to the High Court challenging the order of the Home Department through his counsel Mir Shafaqat Hussain. The Court has issued the orders to the state not to disturb the present status of Wahid. “Why I should be deported. I have my roots here and the Court has already acquitted me,” he says.

Meanwhile, in a significant ruling the High Court has directed the State government to issue passport to a doctor who was denied it by the State on grounds that his mother is heading a separatist organisation in Kashmir. Reports said there are thousands of such cases in Kashmir where passport are being denied, salaries and intelligence clearance for jobs withheld, to persons on grounds that they are relatives of separatists. The relatives of ex-militants, separatists, and even human rights activities are being denied the passport. 

The State had argued that if given the passport the doctor would establish links with the separatists outside the country as his mother is herself a separatist. But the State has averred that there is no adverse report against the petitioner Dr. Massarat Maqbool. After he was denied a passport he filed a petition through his counsel Mir Shafaqat.

In the Court State pleaded that it refused the passport on grounds that his mother is chairperson of a separatist organisation. The state argued that due to “her militancy background” she is indexed in the CID records. 

But there was nothing against the petitioner Dr Massarat. Still in view of the adverse family background his case was not recommended to the passport officer for issuance of passport in his favour. The state argues that there are apprehensions that the petitioner might establish links at the “behest of his mother” with the separatists abroad.

The High Court dwelled upon the issue and observed that the question is whether petitioner could be denied passport on the ground that his mother is chairperson of the separatist organisation when the State says there is nothing against the petitioner.

The Court cited the Supreme Court’s judgment in a case Satwant Sawhney verses D Ramrathnam. In the case the Apex Court has held that no person can be deprived of his right to travel except according to the procedure established under the law.

The High Court said the same views have been expressed by the Apex Court in case Maneka Gandhi versus Union of India. The Court referred to another case of the High Court that has held that it is not permissible under the law that when ‘A’ has committed a crime ‘B’ should be punished for it. 

In the present case, the Court said, the State has taken a definite stand that there is nothing adverse in the CID records against the petitioner. 

Therefore, the Court observed that the State move to deny the passport to Dr Massarat is illegal and in violation of the mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The Court directed the State to issue the passport to the petitioner within four weeks.

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