In what can be seen as an indication of hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani's increasing distance with Islamabad, his elder son has returned home from Pakistan after 12 years.
Naeem Geelani, a doctor by profession, joined his father and other family members a day before Eid. Along with his wife and two children, Mr. Naeem had been living in Pakistan for nearly 10 years. He suffered a massive heart attack in 2009 and was operated upon in Islamabad.
Ostensibly under threat from militant groups inimical to his father's Jamat-e-Islami and the pro-government militants commonly known as Ikhwanis, he left Kashmir in 1999. According to Mr. Naeem, who prefers to stay away from politics, he had been beaten up by Ikhwanis at least three times in Sopore, Hazratbal and Soura. “I was under constant threat and had no option but to leave,” he told The Hindu.
His first destination was London, where he wanted to specialise in medicine, but could not do that for “various reasons.” He later visited Dubai and tried his luck there but failed to enter any reputed medical school. Pakistan, according to him, was the “last option.” Armed with his father's strong pro-Pakistan ideology, he entered the country and joined the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences to pursue MD.
Holding an Indian passport, Mr. Naeem visited home in 2002 when his young sister passed away. He later visited Delhi and Mumbai in 2007 to see his ailing father, who was being treated for malignancy in kidney. His passport, reliable sources said, had expired and it was not renewed by the Indian High Commission in Pakistan. However, they granted him a “travel document” to land in India after they were convinced that he was returning home for good.
Sources close to the family said Mr. Naeem's decision to return came after his heart attack. Moreover, his father's increasing differences with the Pakistani government meant he “no longer wanted” Islamabad to blackmail him politically. During his recent visit to Delhi, Mr. Geelani refused to go to the Pakistani High Commission forcing a senior diplomat to gatecrash at his Malviya Nagar residence.
Even as there were rumours that Mr. Naeem may don a political role, he categorically denied that.