Srinagar, Apr 1: With people alleging hardships during passport verification process, a top Passport Officer has not said there are clear instructions from Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) that police can go to the house of a passport applicant nor can they ask the applicant to come to a police station.
“The MEA has given a clear cut direction and the same has been conveyed to Director General of Police (DGP), J&K and the Additional DG that police will neither go the house of the applicant nor will it ask the applicant to come to a police station,” Regional Passport Officer (RPO), Srinagar, BB Nagar told UNI in an interview here.
He said the instructions were directly given by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj herself. “The police previously used to reason that they have to get the signature of the applicant on PP form. But, Ms Sushma has deleted that requirement, so now the applicants don’t have to sign any form,” he added.
Mr Nagar said so according to the ministry's guideline, the police can neither go to the house of an applicant, nor can it ask the applicant to come to a police station. "If people face any problem, they can directly contact me at my office or message me on the Facebook page of Passport Office Srinagar, which is directly monitored by me," he added.
Urging applicants to declare all the facts correctly in their passport applications, the RPO said if a person is found to be suppressing the facts, he or she will be penalised. “If a person has a court case or has an FIR against him, he should clearly mention it in the application… because if he doesn’t, he is suppressing the facts,” he said.
“If a person has an FIR against him, but police given a clear chit to the applicant, we can issue a passport to him,” he said. Similarly, he said if a person has a court case and wants to go for Haj or Umrah, he can simply go to that court and seek a ‘No objection certificate’ for a particular duration of time. “In such a case we can give a short duration passport to the person. But, if he doesn’t declare the court has or FIR, and the system detects it, he will be penalised,” he addedMr Nagar said the number of passport issued by Regional Passport Office, Srinagar in 2018 was 85,107, including over 15,000 passports for Haj and Umrah.
Acknowledging that J&K is exempted for Tatkal passport service, he, however, said that in special cases, including medical emergencies, a short duration passport of one-year can be given to the applicant. “J&K and Nagaland are exempted for Tatkal passport service. But, in special cases like medical emergencies or if a sports person has been selected for international event, we give a short during passport of one-year immediately,” he said.
“I will give you an example… sometime back, few children from Ladakh were to be rewarded by the Saudi government for a science project, but the kids didn’t have passports to travel. So, we immediately issued a one-year passport to them,” he added. Meanwhile, urging people to check the validity of their passports before planning a tour, the RPO, Srinagar said that 8,000 passports were given on priority basis, on the same day, so the people can perform Haj and Umrah in 2018.
“People here go for Haj and Umrah. But, before applying for the same they should first check if the validity of their passports is more than one year or not. People here rely on Travel agents… without checking the validity of their passports; they get their tickets and visa done. Sometimes people even receive approval for Haj. But when they check their passport, it doesn’t have validity of one year,” he said, adding that in such a cases people can’t undertake the journey. (UNI)