Inter-faith couple harassed at Lucknow passport office: ‘I was told to change my religion, take pheras’

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 08:25 AM IST
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Lucknow: A husband and wife from Uttar Pradesh belonging to different religions are seeking help from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj after being allegedly harassed by a passport officer in Lucknow. Mohammad Anas Siddiqui, who belongs to Muslim religion, and his wife Tanvi Seth, who belongs to Hindu religion, alleged that they were harassed by an officer Vikas Mishra at a Passport Seva Kendra.

The inter-faith couple alleged that the officer asked Anas to convert to Hinduism, asked Tanvi to change her name in all of her documents and yelled at her when she refused to do so.  Shocked at facing such rude behavior from the officer, the couple tweeted to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, asking her to intervene in the matter.

Anas is a native of Aminabad area of Lucknow and married Tanvi in 2007. The couple have a six-year-old daughter. The couple work in a private firm in Noida, and had gone to Lucknow on June 10 for the passport work purpose. “Tanvi and I had applied for our passports on June 19 and got appointments on Wednesday at the Passport Seva Kendra in Lucknow. We cleared the first two stages and our files were then sent to counter C, which is the last stage, to complete formalities,” said Anas to leading daily The Indian Express.

“Tanvi was called first to counter C where an officer named Vikas Mishra looked at her documents. When he saw my name under the spouse category on the documents, he asked Tanvi to change her name or her application would be rejected. When Tanvi refused to do the same, Mishra started shouting at her in front of everyone. When Tanvi broke down, Mishra asked her to go and meet the assistant passport officer (APO),” he added.

Anas further said, “Mishra then called me and started humiliating me. He asked me to convert to Hinduism else my marriage won’t be accepted. Mishra told me that I would have to marry as per Hindu rituals and take ‘pheras’ and send my file to the APO as well. We met the APO and complained to him. He told us Mishra often misbehaved with people like this and asked us to come tomorrow, assuring us that he would try to solve the problem,” said Anas.

In response to the allegations, Regional Passport officer of Lucknow, Piyush Verma had earlier said, “I came to know about the matter through social media and collected information from the APO, who is holding charge of the Passport Seva Kendra. The couple’s applications have not been rejected, they are still under consideration. I will go through the documents and look into the allegation made by the couple.”

Now according to the reports by ANI, the couple have got their passports. A notice have also been issued to the respective official. “Their passports have been issued. A show cause notice has been issued to the official who was at fault, action will also be taken. We regret the incident & will ensure it is not repeated,  Piyush Verma further said.

In his defence, Officer Vikas Mishra told ANI that he asked Tanvi Seth to endorse the name ‘Shadia Anas’, as passport officers have to do thorough checks to ensure no person is changing their name to obtain a passport.

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