Passport officer asks inter-faith couple to go through Hindu rituals to get passport

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: June 22, 2018

Regional passport officer Vikas Mishra was transferred to Gorakhpur a day after the incident and on Thursday said that the questions asked were a part of his duty as a difference in documents could pose a “danger to national security.”

 

Lucknow Couple

Image: Indian Express
 
Lucknow: A Hindu-Muslim couple were allegedly harassed by a passport officer in Lucknow on Wednesday who asked the Muslim husband to convert to Hinduism and the woman to change her name.
 
Tanvi Seth and her husband Mohammad Anas Siddiqui took to Twitter following the incident on Wednesday and recounted their ordeal to Sushma Swaraj and other passport officials.
 
Tanvi wrote to Sushma Swaraj: “I tweet this with immense faith in justice and in you and ironically with a lot of anger/hurt and agony in my heart because of the way I was treated at the Lucknow passport office at Ratan Square by Mr. Vikas Mishra the reason because I married a Muslim and not changed my name ever."
 
In another tweet, Tanvi Seth added: “Sushma Swaraj Ma’am I have never imagined that in a place like passport office we would have a people who are moral policing the citizens. He didn’t just put my passport on hold he even put my husband’s passport on hold. This is a clear grudge. I was shocked at this behavior. I have never felt so insulted in the last 12 years of my marriage with my husband. It is my personal choice to choose a name I want to after my marriage. This is our family matter and the last thing I expected to hear at the passport office was it is your duty to change your name after marriage. The person who spoke to my husband later said of your wife’s case would have been come to me there wouldn’t have been issues because her papers are complete (sic).”
 
Anas told a news channel: “My wife’s turn came before me and as soon as she reached counter C5, an officer named Vikas Mishra started to go through her documents. When he read the spouse’s name as Mohd Anas Siddiqui, he started shouting at her and said that she should not have married me. My wife broke into tears, after which Mr. Mishra said that she should get all the documents corrected with a changed name.”
 
“Anas said that the officer then called and humiliated him claiming that the marriage won’t be ‘recognised.’ An enraged Anas recounted how he was told he should ‘take pheras and convert to Hinduism’ reported DNA.
 
Mohammed Anas Siddiqui and Tanvi Seth have been married for 11 years and have a six-year-old daughter. They live and work in Noida and applied for passports on June 19 and booked an appointment for the next day at Lucknow’s Passport Office. The couple successfully cleared the first two stages of the interview and then went to the counter where regional passport officer Vikas Mishra allegedly harassed them.
 
Officer transferred but says he did for national security
Regional passport officer Vikas Mishra was transferred to Gorakhpur a day after the incident and on Thursday said that the questions asked were a part of his duty as the difference in documents could pose a “danger to national security.”
 
Talking to News18, the accused superintendent said, “I asked the lady about why she has not endorsed her name in the nikahnama and asked her to use the name she had mentioned in the Islamic marriage certificate. Anyone can come up with such documents and it can be a danger to our national security. I am a secular person and do not hold any grudges against anyone.”
 
“I did not misbehave with them and neither did I ask them to change their name or religion,” Mishra told The Indian Express on Thursday. “After getting their biometric and document verification done, the woman came to me at counter C-5. I found she had identified herself as Tanvi Seth in her application, but her nikahnaama identified her as Shadia Anas.” While applying for a passport, applicants are asked whether they had ever changed their name. “She had selected the option ‘no’ in the application. I found that questionable,” said Vikas Mishra. However, according to MEA rules, married applicants would not be required to provide any marriage certificate, including the nikahnaama,” the report said.
 
“But I could not overlook two different names when there were documents before me,” said Mishra. “I merely asked her to mention the change of name in her application, but she refused. Then I asked her to talk to my senior. My job is to check the documents and I would be held responsible if I grant a wrong passport. What if she already has a passport with the name Shadia Anas, or what if she applies for one in the future? When I came to know that she is with her husband, I even asked him to accompany her to my senior’s office to get it sorted,” the report added.
 
Eyewitness says no altercation took place
A man named Kuldeep Singh from Lucknow claimed that no altercation took place at the office as he was present there.
 
“I recognised them from the news reports. I was at counter C-2 waiting for my turn on Wednesday,” Kuldeep told The Indian Express. He added, “They were talking about something in her documents related to her name. The official was saying that there was nothing he could do and that she should talk to the APO. He even consulted his colleague at counter C-1 in this regard, who suggested that he not grant the passport from his end. The officer did not misbehave but the woman was loud and tried to get her way.” “
 
“Kuldeep Singh claimed that Anas, who was at another counter, was directed to Mishra who asked them to meet the APO. He claimed he saw the couple leave the counter. Asked for proof of his presence at the PSK, Singh showed an SMS on his mobile phone purportedly confirming his appointment at 10.30 am, and another SMS that he purportedly received after completing the process at the centre,” The report stated.
 
Passport issued
Regional Passport Officer Peeyush Verma said that the couple should not have been subjected to such harassment and express regret at the inconvenience faced by them.
 
“As all the documents of the couple were complete, we have delivered the passports to them today itself,” Verma said, adding that the accused officer has been transferred to Gorakhpur Regional Passport Office with immediate effect and a report will be sent to Ministry of External Affairs for further action. A show cause notice has been issued to Mishra.