Mumbai: Man claims his passport application was rejected as he lives in slum
Slumdweller claims his application for a passport was rejected by the police on the ground that he lives in a slum; cops agree, then walk back and assure better treatment
Rahul Mishra's passport application is in the doldrums because of the police refusal to grant him clearance. Pic/Nimesh Dave
The left hand, it appears, is not coordinating with the right hand. So even as the Ministry of External Affairs is making every effort to streamline the process of procuring passport, the Mumbai Police is sitting and planting obstacles. Case in point: 23-year-old Rahul Mishra.
A consultant for TCS, he has been running from pillar to post to procure his passport, but has been roadblocked by the MHB Colony police station that is 'refusing' to clear his police verification because he lives in a slum; this, despite producing all mandatory documents like Aadhar and PAN card.
Criterion met, but declined
In June, Rahul submitted all the required documents with a letter of authenticity from TCS to the passport office, which was accepted and he was given an appointment for police verification. However, after he submitted the documents there, his application was rejected and the status showed that it was due to incomplete submission of documents during police verification. But shockingly, he never got the call for it to begin with.
To clarify, Mishra then approached the police station and was handed the doozy: They couldn't clear his verification because he was residing in an 'illegal' slum. "I have all the documents that are required. I submitted my Aadhar card, voter ID card, PAN card and bank statement to the police. First, when I asked them why it was incomplete, they said that I have to also submit my electricity bill, which I checked was not compulsory. After I confronted them again, they finally accepted that they don't issue passport to slum dwellers from Ganpat Patil Nagar," said Mishra.
"I have been working with TCS for almost four years and they do strict verification of candidates before hiring. They would never have appointed me if I was a shady character. My only mistake is that I live in a slum," added Mishra.
Suyog Kamble, public regional officer of the police station responsible for the verification stated, "The slum dwellers from the area are residing on illegal land. So we don't issue passports to them," said Kamble.
Can they do it?
However, according to a senior passport officer from Mumbai, "Irrespective of where they live, the passport department issues passports. Had he not been eligible, we would have rejected his application and not processed it for police verification. The responsibility of police is just to check if the applicant has any criminal records and his residence. They are not responsible for deciding if he should be issued a certificate or not," said a senior officer from Mumbai passport department seeking anonymity.
Incidentally, even if an applicant is residing in a disputed area, the verification officer simply needs to write that "the applicant resides in a disputed area but his criminal record is clean", following which, the passport department makes the final call. When mid-day posted this to officer Kamble, he changed tack and insisted that's what he had written in his response and it was the department that refused the passport.
"We are working with companies that have international hands and it gives us an opportunity to go abroad. But, if the police doesn't clear our documents, how will we ever get out of here?" questioned Mishra, adding, "If we are given voter ID card to cast our votes under the constitution, then why not a passport?" After requesting the passport department, he has now been issued another appointment on for police verification, for which he submitted documents on Sunday. This time, Kamble has assured him he will look into the matter.
What is the criterion for a passport?
According to the passport department, any person who is a citizen of India and has documents like Aadhar card, voter ID card, bank statement of his account, or PAN card with no records of criminal activity, is eligible.
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