Police verification to go online, applicants to soon get passports within 2 weeks: RPO Srinagar

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Srinagar, Mar 22: Asserting that very soon people will be able to get their passports within two weeks of applying in Jammu and Kashmir, Regional Passport Officer (RPO), Srinagar, B B Nagar said that the entire police verification process for new applications will be done online in the next three to four months.
Meanwhile, Nagar said the number of passport issued by Regional Passport Office, Srinagar in 2018 was 85,107, including over 15,000 passports for Hajj and Umrah.
“Previous there were three stake holders for passport verifications in J&K — state police, CID and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). But, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was kind enough to remove MEA from this process. Sushma asserted that if passports are procured with 21 days of applying in other countries, the same should happen in India… she said that process should also work in J&K as well,” Nagar told a news agency in an exclusive interview here.
Therefore, he said the MEA has approved the proposal for making the entire police verification process online and the same will be operational in the state in the next three to four months.
“It takes only two day for our passport office to process an application after the applicant comes for an appointment. On the first day, we take picture of the applicant and his bio-metrics. On the second day, we send the details to police for verification,” the RPO, Srinagar, said while explaining the process of passport verification.
However, he said the police till now used to work in offline mode. “Police and CID used to send their reports to Additional Director General (ADG) Police through post. Then ADG used to send the report again to us through post,” he said.
“Currently, the Durbar offices are in Jammu and it takes about 15 days for ADG to receive reports from Police and CID and another 15 days for us to receive the report from the ADG. So, people in Kashmir suffer in winter months and during summers, the people of Jammu suffer as the Durbar officers are in Srinagar,” he said.
Nagar said the issue was taken up with MEA following which approval for the police verification to go online was given. “The process is in pipeline and once the police verification goes online, the applicant will have their passport within two weeks of applying,” 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 Hajj and Umrah in 2018.
“People here go for Hajj 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 Hajj. 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.
Talking about issuance of travel documents to former militants, he said passports can be issued to any individual, provided there are no negative remarks from the police or CID in verification report. “In J&K and Nagaland, we (Passport Offices) are fully dependent on Police verification,” he said.
“The passport manual says anyone who is a citizen of India by birth or by resolution can’t be denied a passport. As I already said that we send the application of an applicant to police for verification…If they don’t put any negative comment on the verification, we have no problem in issuing a passport to the applicant. But, if the police verification says that he is a threat to the integrity and sovereignty of this country we can’t give passport to such a person,” Nagar said.
“There were many court cases which happened in such incidents. We informed the judiciary that if the verification says that the person is a threat to the integrity and sovereignty of the country… how can we issue the passport,” he said.
He said there is no rule that states that a passport can’t be given to a former militant. But, he said it entirely depend on police verification. “There are cases were police has said that the person was a militant 10 years back, but now there is no case against him so you can issue a passport… so we have issued passport in such cases,” he added.
Further elaborating the issue, he said, “There are two categories, one is police verification and one is prior approval category. Like few agencies of Government of India (GoI) have sent prior notifications about few people that they are threat to the country or if they go out of the country they can be a threat, we can’t issue passport to such people.”
He further said that in a special drive under the name of ‘Passport Adalat’, the RPO, Srinagar was able to clear about 1000 cases out of 1800 pending cases in the month of February.