Day After Being Harassed, Lucknow Inter-faith Couple Receive Passports; Officer Transferred

Rajiv Tuli asked external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to give Vikas Mishra a chance to explain his side of the story.

Lucknow: A day after an inter-faith couple tweeted to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj narrating the humiliation they had to face at the city passport office, accused officer Vikas Mishra has been transferred. A probe was also ordered in this regard on Thursday.

Hours after the incident, secretary of external affairs ministry D M Mulay took cognizance of the matter and assured “appropriate action”, following which the couple was called to the passport office on Thursday and their passports were handed over to them.

“@tanvianas: Regret for inconvenience. I sought report from @rpolucknow Will take appropriate action. (sic),” Mulay tweeted.

The incident was first reported by News18 on Wednesday when it came to light that the couple, who had applied for their passports in Lucknow, were allegedly humiliated and shamed by passport officer Vikas Mishra before he rejected their application.

Mohammad Anas Siddiqui, who married Tanvi Seth in 2007 in Lucknow and has a six-year-old daughter, applied for both of their passports on June 19 and took an appointment for June 20 at the Passport Office in Lucknow.

On the day of the appointment, the couple cleared the first two stages of the interview at counters A and B but problem started at counter C where one has to interact with an official.

Speaking to News18, Siddiqui said, “My wife’s turn came before me and as soon as she reached counter C5, an officer named Vikas Mishra started to go through her documents. When he read the spouse’s name as Mohd Anas Siddiqui, he started shouting at her and said that she should not have married me. My wife broke into tears, after which Mr Mishra said that she should get all the documents corrected with a changed name.”

Sethi later tweeted to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the Prime Minister’s Office and sought their intervention, following which the action was taken.

Confirming the incident, Regional Passport Officer Peeyush Verma said, “The incident has happened and the couple will be coming to the office in Gomtinagar in Lucknow on Thursday (today). I will look into the matter and take appropriate action.”

In her tweet to Swaraj, Sethi wrote, “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).”