By Irshad Hussain 

Srinagar: When it comes to travel, residents of Jammu and Kashmir undergo a process unlike many others across the country.

Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s 80-year-old mother Gulshan Nazir recently got her passport released, but only after the Jammu and Kashmir high court intervened.

In its order on February 11, 2023, the court asked the passport officer to re-issue Nazir’s passport afresh. It also criticised the delay.

“The Passport Officer has not to act as the mouthpiece of the CID. When an authority is vested with the power, the same is to be exercised judiciously and not arbitrarily as has been done in the instant case,” Justice M. A. Chowdhary said.

The court stated that Nazir cannot be denied her fundamental right under Article 21 to travel outside of India as an Indian citizen, in the absence of any unfavourable security report.

Now, however, Mufti’s daughter Iltija has claimed that her and her’s mother Mehbooba’s passport requests have been denied to them by the Jammu and Kashmir administration since June 2022 and March 2020 respectively.

Mehbooba, the chief of the People’s Democratic Party, had applied for a new passport in March 2020 after her old one had expired.

“Earlier, the authorities had said in the honourable court that issuing passports to the Mufti family is a threat to national security. My mother has nothing to do with politics. She is in her 80s and her passport was also denied. Only after the court’s intervention was her passport released. How could my mother be a threat to national security, ” Mehbooba told The Wire.

On July 31, 2021, J&K authorities had issued a circular asking to withhold security clearance to individuals involved in “anti-national activities and other related crimes.” Amod Ashok Nagpure, Senior Superintendent of J&K Police, CID, gave the Special Branch (SB) field units in Kashmir the go-ahead to “specifically” investigate “law and order,” “stone pelting,” and other charges before granting clearance to subjects who have applied for government employment or a passport, the circular says.

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