Kashmir Singh not being given a passportJuly 29th, 2008 - 7:37 pm ICT by IANS
By Parminder Singh Bariana
Hoshiarpur/Jalandhar, July 29 (IANS) Having spent 35 years in Pakistani jails on charges of being an Indian spy, Kashmir Singh returned home this March. Now he is not being given a passport because he has not been living at his present address for the past one year. He wants to visit his daughter in Italy. “My daughter Manjit Kaur is staying in Italy. She cannot come to meet me due to some reasons and it is my long desire to see her. When I saw my daughter last time in the early 1970s, she was only one and a half years old,” Kashmir Singh told IANS.
But the regional passport office (RPO) in Jalandhar has denied Kashmir Singh a passport on the grounds that he has not been residing at his present address for the last one year.
Kashmir Singh was released by Pakistani authorities in March this year after spending 35 years in prisons there. He was charged with being an Indian spy and accused of terrorist activities.
He applied for a passport in May under the ‘Tatkal’ (Immediate) scheme and says he has been visiting the RPO in Jalandhar from his village Nangal Choran near Hoshiarpur but has been told that the passport cannot be issued now.
Regional passport officer A.K. Mahajan told IANS that they had to go by rules in this case also.
“To obtain the passport it is necessary to have stayed at the last address for at least one year, and this has to be verified by the local police. In the case of Kashmir Singh, we have got verification that he has been staying there for only three months,” Mahajan pointed out.
The passport officer said that Kashmir Singh’s case had now been forwarded to the central government’s home ministry for a decision.
Kashmir Singh has been living in his village, 25 km from Punjab’s Hoshiarpur town, for just about five months now.
He said that he had visited the RPO several times but every time he was told that his case was being sent to Delhi.
Kashmir Singh had made international headlines when he was released by Pakistan after spending 35 years in jails there. His return was seen as a watershed in improving ties between India and Pakistan - the two nuclear neighbours who have been involved in three wars.
Hoshiarpur’s deputy commissioner N.K. Wadhawan said that the police could only verify that Kashmir Singh had been staying in his house for three months when he applied for his passport.
In Chandigarh, Punjab’s information and public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia promised to take up Kashmir Singh’s case with the central government for issuing a passport to him.
Majithia Tuesday presented drafts worth Rs 500,000 to Kashmir Singh from funds received from non-resident Indians for his support.
The Punjab government had earlier given a grant of Rs.1 million and also announced a monthly pension of Rs 10,000 for life after he returned to India.