There was a huge uproar recently when Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chairman, applied for renewal of his Indian passport. Media reports suggest he had planned to visit his ailing daughter in Saudi Arabia.

Despite the media hype, the issue of a passport to Syed Geelani or, for that matter, any other separatist leader, is a non-event for the Government of India and rightly so.

All the separatist leaders use Indian passports on their many foreign jaunts, including their paid for holidays in Pakistan. If the documentation and the process is correct, the pass port office does not create any hurdles in issuing a passport.

The main point here is the manner in which Syed Geelani has, in a blatant act of perfidy, used this opportunity to garner cheap publicity. After a fair degree of politicking, he entered his nationality as ‘Indian’ in the passport application form and then generated a wholly avoidable media debate on the subject. To keep the pot boiling, he clarified to the media that the same is being done out of compulsion and reiterated that he is basically a Pakistani at heart.

He has tried to exploit the opportunity to build a sympathy wave by projecting himself as a deprived person being oppressed by a brutal state. His machinations are, of course, far from the truth.

Freedom fighter really?

One is reminded of the sacrifices that freedom fighters across the world have made for the cause that they believed in. Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and other Indian leaders who spearheaded the freedom struggle completely disregarded their families in their fight against British oppression. Nelson Mandela, the iconic South African leader, stayed in jail for 27 years for his fight against colonial forces. Aung San Su Kyii, the pro-democracy leader of Myanmar, left her family and a comfortable life in the United Kingdom to fight for her people within her own country and stayed in jail for more than 15 years. There are many other examples of such sacrifices.

On his part, Geelani too, rather emotively, talks about his sacrifice and claims to be fighting for selfless fight for the liberty and freedom of his people in Kashmir. Even if few may consider it to be true, the question is – in terms of his commitment to his professed cause, does he match up with the personal sacrifices made by other world leaders who fought for the freedom and liberty of their land and people?

The answer is a big NO.

Geelani has no compunction in using health facilities provided by the Government of India; he is looked after well, free of cost, in the best government hospitals such as AIIMS. His children have received the best possible education through facilities provided by the very government that he has spent a life time opposing. As a result, they are now pursuing lucrative professions in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia etc. Many of his family members are comfortably settled across India, especially in New Delhi; basically far from the miseries of Kashmir and the common Kashmiri. His “selfless sacrifice” has definitely been good for his family.

No self-respecting leader who is fighting for the freedom of his people would bow down before a government that he is fighting against for a reason as flimsy as that being given by Geelani. Revolutionaries are made of sterner stuff, they do not succumb to human frailties. They remain steadfast in their belief and true to their people.

Geelani has demonstrated his inability to control his love for his own daughter. Is the common Kashmiri not his child? Should he be forsaking Kashmiri people for the sake of one blood relative? Having been thus exposed as a weak self-centred man, how will he extol his followers to make sacrifices for the cause that he professes? How will he face those who have followed him and lost their dear ones in the process?

Assuming the media reports to be true, while wishing a speedy recovery to Geelani’s daughter, one cannot but help doubt his intentions. A question that rankles everybody’s mind is: Is Geelani visiting Saudi Arabia only to meet his daughter or is there a bigger plan in place?

It is not out of the realm of possibility that while in Saudi Arabia, Geelani will also meet many other political leaders and government officials of the country who have an interest in replacing the enlightened Sufi culture of the valley with Saudi sponsored Wahabi/Salafi concept of Islam. Undoubtedly, his ISI handlers will also come there to meet him. Such meetings will create an opportunity for Geelani to rake in more funds and also understand the requirements of his masters.

It can be reasonably deduced that Geelani is himself not serious about his cause and the ideology of freedom that he espouses all the time. He indulges only in lip service. He does not seem to be convinced about the justification of the cause. In fact, no right thinking person in the world is convinced about it. Geelani says that Kashmir should become a part of Pakistan while many in Pakistan themselves feel that the country should be trying to consolidate what it has rather than looking for other territories on which they have no claim whatsoever.

Geelani says that he wants freedom for his people while the fact is that they are already enjoying the same as a part of the largest democracy in the world.

His recent actions prove that Geelani is nothing more than a self-serving opportunist. It is high time that the people of Kashmir see the reality as it is and not get swayed by Geelani’s emotive foreign sponsored propaganda.