Srinagar, Sep 25 : Call it lending a helping hand. Although normal life remained crippled for 52nd day on Wednesday due to strike against scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35 A in Kashmir valley, the work in the Passport office in Srinagar has remained uninterrupted.
A tally of 6,400 passports were printed and dispatched since 5th August. ''The main post offices in the valley have opened special counters, where applicants can collect their passports,'' a Regional Passport Officer (RPO) Srinagar's B B Nagar said.
Mr Nagar said despite suspension of internet and mobile services in the valley, the passport office in Srinagar processes about 100 applications on an average in a day.
Despite all odds
''The office remained functional despite all odds after Article 370 and Article 35 A were scrapped… and not just for queries, but even for processing, printing,'' he said. Mr Nagar said that they were not able to dispatch the passports for a couple of weeks, so in some exceptional cases they gave the passports to the applicants at the passport office itself. ''During that time we gave 71 passports at our passport office counter,'' he said.
''Initially for two days -- August 5 and August 6 -- we had some shortfall of staff, but after that we have been working at full strength. Even today, we have a footfall of over 100 applicants, which include 40 fresh applications while 15 to 20 are rescheduled,'' he said. Mr Nagar said since August 5 to September 25, the passports office has given out 6,468 passports.
Any nook or cranny
Asserting that they have been asked people to get their form filled online anywhere in the country, he said,'' once they get their forms filled, they come with the application number and we process their applications.
''Before the current situation, we used to get 200 to 300 passport applications per day. But, now we get around 100 applications,''he said.
''Our offices are even open in Anantnag and Baramulla despite no internet connectivity. Our officers in those offices ask people to get their applications filled anywhere in India… if there is an urgency, they refer the case to Srinagar and we get the application processed,'' he added.
Expressing happiness over the support from New Delhi, he said, ''Our Joint Secretary Arun Chatterjee has given full powers to me to help the people in the valley in any which way possible.''
Mr Nagar said Chief Postmaster General, J&K, D Sharin has taken an unprecedented decision to start a special counter at post offices to give passport by hand in view of the situation. ''Any applicant can go to the post office with his valid ID proof and get his passport from a special counter opened for this purpose. We have opened counters in the main post offices in each district,'' he said.
Mr Nagar said there are three stakeholders in the process--Passport office, Police and Post Office. ''Everyone is going out of their way to help the people in distress in the current situation,'' he added. (UNI)