Editorial: Securing a passport 

An advertisement which runs on various channels including private FM channels seems pleasing to the ears. The advertisement has been issued by the External Affairs Ministry informing people that how simplified the process of acquiring a passport has become in today’s world.

The advertisement says that by depositing your Aadhar card, anyone can get his passport within no time as the details in the Aadhar are sufficient enough for a person declaring him to be a bonafide citizen of any particular place.

Issuance of a passport has been one of major concern for the people of Kashmir Valley ever since the situation took an ugly turn here. Acquiring a passport is considered an uphill task by the people here and they have every reason to believe like that.

Just a few days back, a complainant had approached our office telling us how the local police carried out the verification of his nine-month-old kid for whom the parents had sought a passport as they had plans to visit a foreign country.

This particular case in among the thousands or more cases that are otherwise being held in abeyance for such petty queries that one wonders about the facts and claims that are otherwise claimed by the government over the issuance of passports.

India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had claimed just last week that issuance of passports to the Indian citizens should be simple and without hassles for the applicants. Already various steps have been taken by the MEA, the Minister claimed but said that for easing the system of issuance of a passport more facilities could be provided.

Even the Minister proposed that a ration card can be accepted as a residence proof for seeking a passport and she claimed that directions have been sent to passport kendras to act accordingly.

However, what is worrisome for the people in Kashmir Valley is the time taken by the investigating agencies and the police to give a clean chit to any person vis-a-vis his or her verification.

The federal government claims that up to a week’s time should be taken by the verifying authorities

However, the most time consuming and complicated part of the issuance of a passport is the police verification report. Whatever the claims of the government, the ground reality is that police verification, particularly in our state is a lengthy and time-consuming affair.

The Ministry needs to consider this part of the issuance of passport and device means and ways so that police verification could be done in a weeks time or at the most by 15 days.

Apart from this the Ministry also needs to concentrate the way passport offices are functioning. These offices need a well trained front office staff who can provide easy access and hassle free counselling and solutions to the enquiries the general public has.



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