Jammu, Jan 11 IANS | 10 months ago

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Saturday questioned the claims of a young man who said he lost the opportunity to be an intern with the Guardian newspaper of London because of a delay in getting his passport.


Sheikh Ruhail Afzal, a resident of Trehgam village in north Kashmir's Kupwara district, told the media earlier this week that the local Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had turned down his passport application on the grounds that one of his relatives had been a militant.

Afzal said he needed the passport to join as an intern at the Guardian newspaper of London.

Immediately after the story was published, Omar Abdullah posted on Twitter that the state government had issued clear orders to the local CID not to decline any passport application on the basis of a relative's involvement in militancy.

The CID later cleared Afzal's passport application after he applied for a review of the earlier decision.

Sources in the CID said a review of the application was undertaken and it was cleared in light of the state government's orders issued in 2012 under which no application could be rejected because the applicant's kin was involved in militancy.

After the CID cleared Afzal's passport application he told a local newspaper, Rising Kashmir, that he had lost the prestigious internship because of the delay.

Omar Abdullah Saturday challenged the newspaper that published the news to produce a copy of the offer Afzal claimed to have received from the London daily.

"So I've heard the boy claiming to have lost his internship with the Guardian Newspaper because of his passport never had such an offer", Omar posted on Twitter Saturday.

The chief minister, however, did not dispute the boy's right to get the passport. He hoped, however, that he wasn't fibbing.

"While he has every right to expect a passport, I hope he hasn't lied to gain sympathy. This will only damage legitimate cases going ahead.

"Can @risingkashmir @bukharishujaat please reproduce his Guardian offer letter, because you guys went to town with the story," the chief minister tweeted.

"I hope I'm wrong and there is an actual offer and not that we've been lied to. If not what does that tell us about quality of our journalism?" the chief minister said.

(Posted on 11-01-2014)