Diplomatic Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Veteran Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has been denied a visa, a United States' embassy official said on Wednesday. Mr. Geelani has just been operated upon in a Mumbai hospital.

The official, when contacted, told this correspondent that Mr. Geelani, leader of the breakaway Hurriyat faction, had been found "ineligible" for a visa. He chose not to give any details. He, however, pointed out that Mr. Geelani had "consistently failed to renounce violence as means of achieving his political goal in Kashmir." The U.S. supported the ongoing discussions between India and Pakistan to resolve key bilateral issues, including the question of Kashmir, he said.

Mr. Geelani's family was reportedly told about the American decision on Tuesday in Mumbai, where the visa was sought. The U.S. apparently took the view that there were many other places where the separatist leader could seek medical treatment. Interestingly, nearly two years ago, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was denied an American visa following a sustained campaign in the U.S. focusing on his alleged role in the February 2002 killing of Muslims in the State.

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