Lucknow: Regional passport officer Vikas Mishra, who was transferred to Gorakhpur for harassing an inter-faith couple, claimed on Thursday that the questions asked were a part of his duty as 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.”
Expressing regret over the inconvenience faced by the Lucknow couple, Regional Passport Officer Peeyush Verma said that they should not have been subjected to such harassment.
“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.
“Religion of the applicant does not matter at all while applying for a passport,” he said.
Speaking to media after getting the passports, Anas Siddiqui and Tanvi Seth said, “We are very happy that RPO called us today and took action. They have also apologised for all the inconvenience we had to face yesterday. I am really thankful to Ministry of External Affairs for their intervention.”
The incident was first reported by News18 on Wednesday when Siddiqui and Seth, who had applied for their passports in Lucknow, were allegedly harassed and shamed by Mishra before rejecting their application. Hours later, secretary of external affairs ministry D M Mulay took cognizance of the matter and assured “appropriate action”.
Seth had tweeted to MEA Sushma Swaraj, saying, “Hello Ma’am, I type this tweet 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. He spoke to me very rudely and was loud enough for others to hear while discussing my case. I have never felt so harassed ever before. The other workers at the office acknowledged his rude demeanour (sic).”
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).”