Hardliner Geelani gets protocol at Airport VIP Lounge
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Jan 28: Days after Chairman of the separatist Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was accorded VIP treatment on his departure to New Delhi by anti-jacking wing of Jammu & Kashmir Police, separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani was also accommodated in the VIP Lounge of Srinagar Airport by the state Police today. Even as a number of separatist leaders, including former militants, have been enjoying hospitality and protocol of Cabinet Ministers and High Court judges at
, it is first time that VIP Lounge at the country’s most sensitive airport has been unofficially made open for Mirwaiz and Geelani. Srinagar Airport
Eyewitnesses told Early Times that Chairman of the radical faction of Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, arrived at the Departure of Srinagar Airport alongwith two of his associates at around 12.10 pm today. All the three were straightaway escorted to the VIP Lounge by staff of the anti-hijacking wing of J&K Police and treated to the hospitality and protocol of Cabinet Ministers and High Court judges. After enjoying the official protocol for about 40 minutes, Geelani boarded Delhi-bound flight IA 826 of the Indian Airlines.
On Friday last, Chairman of the Hurriyat’s so-called moderate faction, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was accorded similar VIP treatment when he was on way to
London via . According to official sources, staff of a security related agency had complained to their headquarters in New Delhi last week that J&K Police, CRPF and Airport Authority of India personnel had been making “serious compromises” with regard to the airport security by lodging “anti-India politicians and former terrorists” at the VIP Lounge of Srinagar Airport though none of them was by law and restrictions entitled to such treatment. New Delhi
SSP Budgam, Uttam Chand, asserted that District Police was responsible only for maintaining order upto first entrance of the airport on
Srinagar-Humhama-Airport Road. He maintained that men of Police Division Humhama were also available when called to take cognizance of any criminal matter happening inside or outside the airport premises. He clarified that responsibility of servicing the VIPs at Departure and Arrival lounges lay exclusively with anti-hijacking wing of the state Police headed by SP Airport.
However, sources insisted that SSP Budgam, Uttam Chand, SHO Budgam, Inspector Rafeeq, and incharge of Police Division Humhama, Sub Inspector Imtiyaz, were themselves present at the terminal building, though they did not visit the Airport Lounge. “They seemed to be taking care of the BJP leaders sent back today”, a source said.
SP Anti-hijacking at
, Abdul Rasheed, told Early Times that it was “all actually the responsibility of the Airport Authority of India staff. He said that they alone knew, with the help of an official document, as to who was entitled to sit in a VIP Lounge and who was not. “There is always an AAI man at the gate there. What’s his duty? We only escort and accommodate only the Cabinet Ministers. If any of the separatist leaders is taking extra advantage of his Police security guards, we are not to blame”, SP Airport said. When it was pointed out to him that Mr Geelani was not even a protected person like Mirwaiz and many other separatist leaders, he insisted it was all responsibility of the AAI staff. Srinagar Airport