The Telegraph
Wednesday , May 14 , 2014
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Glare on police for passport gaffe

Serious gaffes in the police verification process of passport seekers came to light on Tuesday when the regional passport officer (RPO) revealed that eight Bangladeshi citizens living in Sahebganj had procured the crucial proof of residence from Jharkhand.

Although their passports were cancelled soon after the lapse came to the notice of the district administration and the regional passport office in Ranchi, the eight are yet to give back the foreign travel permits. No action was taken against them either.

The glaring folly committed by special branch officers of Sahebganj came to the fore during the DGP’s Apke Dwar Karyakram held at the state police headquarters to review the status of passport applications and character verification forms pending at 24 districts across the state.

Superintendents of police or their representatives of all districts interacted with DGP Rajeev Kumar and RPO Sanatan through videoconferencing.

During the interaction, a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) of Sahebganj, Shashi Bhusan, who was representing superintendent of police A.R. Ram, claimed only 16 cases of verification of passport forms were pending in the district and people there did not face any problem.

The RPO, however, begged to differ. “People and police might be happy, but the passport office has a problem with the district. Two months ago, eight passports were issued in your district following police verification. But a few days later, information reached us that policemen committed mistakes in the verification process and the eight, who had already been issued the passports, are actually Bangladeshi citizens and not Indian,” Sanatan said.

He went on to point out that the regional passport office immediately cancelled their passports and directed the recipients to return the same.

“But till now, we have no clue about the passports or the recipients,” the RPO added.

The DGP, along with ADG (special branch) Rezi Dungdung, IG (provisions) Anurag Gupta and a few senior officers of special branch who were also present at the police headquarters, expressed alarm and sought an immediate explanation from the DSP.

Kumar also wanted to know what action had been taken against the erring police officers and the passport seekers.

DSP Bhusan summoned a special branch officer during the videoconferencing, who claimed that the case pertained to Radhanagar police station.

The officer also admitted that the mistake was done during completion of the verification process in a hurry.

“As the passport form had to be verified within 21 days, the policemen summoned the applicants to the thana, matched the photographs and signatures of the applicants and sent a positive report to the higher-ups without going for physical verification.

“After a while, when the policemen visited the address, they found out that the eight are actually Bangladeshi residents. They didn’t waste time and immediately informed their seniors,” the officer added.

The DGP was not satisfied and sought a detailed o report within two days.

“This is the first time that such a case was detected. The regional passport office had to cancel the passports as rules say that the overseas travel permit, which also doubles up as citizenship proof, can be issued only to Indians,” Sanatan told The Telegraph.