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Region’s passport offices told to keep agents at bay

RPO issues directions to offices in Ludhiana, Chandigarh and Ambala to not allow agents within 100 metre radius

punjab Updated: Jul 27, 2018 12:34 IST
Jatinder Kaur Tur
Jatinder Kaur Tur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Regional Passport Officer,Chandigarh,Ludhiana

The Regional Passport Office here has issued strict instructions asking passport offices at Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Ambala, to not allow any agent within a radius of 100 metres from the respective passport offices. Tight vigil has been ordered in Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Ambala passport offices with regards to discouraging the movement of agents targeting naive applicants. Officials have been directed and written warnings displayed asking agents to stay outside the specified periphery.

Regional Passport Officer (RPO) Sibash Kabiraj said that the directions have been issued following a spate of incidents wherein these agents were found defrauding of ignorant applicants right in front of these passport offices.

The RPO shared that nearly half a dozen such agents have been handed over to the Sector 34 police station in the past few weeks or so. “In yet another case, we found an agent roaming close to the Regional Passport Office on Thursday. On quizzing him, our officials keeping a surveillance and check on the CCTVs installed at various spots here, discovered that the modus operandi of this agent was no different from others, said the RPO, adding, “He made ignorant people who had come here after taking an appointment write an application on a plain paper. Then they would tell them to go to a particular room here since they were aware of the procedure. Following this, the application of these applicants would in any case get processed in the routine streamlined procedure followed all over the country. However, these agents would project that the application was processed courtesy the agent's contacts and would demand anywhere between ₹15,000 to ₹25,000 as fee.”

Apart from the Regional Passport Office here, similar instructions have been issued for Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) in Ludhiana and Ambala, in addition to the Post Office Passport Seva Kendras (POPSKs) across Ambala, Ludhiana and Chandigarh. The RPO shared that 25 districts are covered under the Regional Passport Officer here including the Union Territory of Chandigarh, 12 districts of Punjab, namely SAS Nagar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ropar, Bathinda, Sangrur, Barnala, Patiala, Mansa, Ludhiana, Khanna, Jagraon and 12 districts of Haryana, namely Panchkula, Ambala, Jind, Karnal, Kaithal, Kurukshetra, Panipat, Bhiwani, Yamuna nagar, Hissar, Fatehabad, Sirsa.

‘VERIFICATION PROCESS SIMPLIFIED’

“The process of police verification has also been simplified and the inquiry would just be confined to verifying criminal records if any of the applicants. Further, the police officials would not be required to meet the applicant in person or get his signature for the police verification report. They are now free to avail services of a Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) or Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK) under any Regional Passport Office (RPO) of their choice irrespective of the RPO jurisdiction over the residential address furnished in the application,” said Kabiraj, adding that the recently introduced F-token facility for children below the age of six, their parents, senior citizens and differently abled applicants entitles them for a top priority processing of their application.

HOW AGENTS BEFOOL PEOPLE

The agents make ignorant people who come to the passport office write an application on a plain paper. Then they tell them to go to a particular room. Following this, the application of these applicants would in any case get processed in the routine streamlined procedure followed all over the country. However, these agents would project that the application was processed courtesy the agent's contacts and would demand anywhere between ₹15,000 to ₹25,000 as fee.

First Published: Jul 27, 2018 12:34 IST