Published: Monday, August 5, 2013

Kashmiri girl wins US scholarship, state denies passport

Sufaira Jan. Photo: NDTV

Sufaira Jan. Photo: NDTV

She was offered a scholarship by the US, but orphaned Kashmiri teenager Sufaira has been denied a passport by her own country, just because her uncle was a militant even before she was born.

Fifteen-year-old Sufaira Jan, who stays in an orphanage in Budgam, was to have left for the US in the first week of August, after winning a one-year scholarship under the India-US Youth Exchange Study programme.

She cleared four exams and an interview in the US embassy in Delhi in March to get an invitation from America, becoming an inspiration for the entire orphanage.

But reality hit hard when she applied for a passport in April, this year. The Jammu and Kashmir state government did not give her a clearance, based on the state CID’s (Criminal Investigation Department) records on her uncle, a former militant who surrendered in 1995.

“The government doesn’t understand that if my uncle was a militant in the past, and is now surrendered and lives a normal life, what is my fault? I am not a militant,” Sufaira said.

Though she should have been on her way to the US by now, Sufaira still has her fingers crossed. “I really want to go to America, I cleared all the exams successfully. Even my friends are praying for me.”

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s response should encourage her.

The chief minister tweeted: “Needless to say she will NOT be denied a passport because of her uncle’s past. All such pending cases of previous denials are being cleared.”