Interfaith couple’s passports cleared, probe says Lucknow official exceeded brief

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New Delhi/Lucknow: An internal government probe has found that a Lucknow passport officer and the police exceeded their brief, asking irrelevant questions from an interfaith couple whose travel documents have now been approved, officials said.
“The passports of Tanvi Seth and Anas Siddiqui have been cleared, Regional Passport Officer (RPO) Piyush Verma told PTI in Lucknow Wednesday.
The probe found that department official Vikas Mishra was wrong in asking the couple questions about their religion when they visited his office with their passport applications, sources said today.
They said the police in Uttar Pradesh police were also wrong in seeking details about their residence while conducting the verification process required for issuing a passport.
The couple had alleged harassment by a passport official, saying they were targeted because of their interfaith marriage.
RPO Piyush Verma said there was no adverse report from the police after the verification of the couple under the Ministry of External Affairs guidelines.
He said under the new MEA rules which came into force in June, the police report only on six points related to criminal antecedents and citizenship.
In an attempt to ease the police verification process, the MEA had reduced the number of questions applicants have to answer from nine to six, restricting the focus on any criminal antecedents, he said.
The controversy arose on June 20 when Tanvi Seth and Mohammad Anas Siddiqui, who have been married for 12 years, wrote on Twitter that they were humiliated at the passport office in Lucknow.
They had alleged that official Vikas Mishra asked Siddiqui to convert to Hinduism and pulled up Seth for marrying a Muslim.
On June 21, the RPO transferred Mishra to Gorakhpur and issued passports to the couple. The couple had tagged External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and following the official’s transfer the minister was trolled on Twitter.
The local police sent their report to the RPO office on June 26, saying Tanvi Seth had been living in Noida, and not Lucknow as mentioned in her application, for the past one year.

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