HYDERABAD: In the last two years, as many as 93 illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar were found to be living in Hyderabad with fraudulent Indian passports, which were revoked by the Regional Passport Office, Hyderabad.
Maintaining that incidents of illegal immigrants procuring Indian passports are particularly high in the city, the Regional Passport Officer of Hyderabad region, E Vishnu Vardhan Reddy pointed out that illegal immigrants usually obtain fake documents like Aadhaar card or birth certificate to apply for the Indian passport.
They do not get caught even during police verification since the assigned police officer usually visits only the current residential address to verify the documents. However, Reddy said that the verification of documents and veracity of claims by the passport holder are probed even after the passport is issued. And eventually, the fraud comes to light. For instance, when a Bangladeshi illegal immigrant claims to be a native of West Bengal, the passport officials get in touch with the WB police to verify the claim.
Apart from the problem of illegal immigrants obtaining Indian passports, Reddy said that there are two other challenges that the passport office faces. The first issue includes complaints of NRI marriages going kaput after the husband either abandons the wife, harasses her for dowry, or divorces her. The second one involves the issue of fake websites that pose as genuine Government of India websites for receiving passport applications, formed to scam the gullible.
200 complaints in 2 years
Regarding the issue of NRI marriages, Reddy said that last year alone, the RPO Hyderabad received 118 cases and this year it has already received 77 such cases till July. He said that the passport office investigates into the matter even if the complaint is received from a third party like a relative or friend of the woman being cheated by her NRI husband. However, he said that the action taken is swifter if an FIR is filed or a charge sheet is filed. He also said that if there is a look-out notice or a non-bailable warrant issued in such cases, the passport of the accused is immediately suspended.
Pointing out the menace of fake websites masquerading as genuine ones, Reddy said that there have been instances of even civil servants falling prey to such websites in Telangana. These websites look like the genuine website, but instead of having the domain name ‘gov.in’ they have domain names ending with .org, .com or .in.
Reddy informed that the RPO Hyderabad is readying itself to issue e-passports, which will be like regular passports with an addition of a chip embedded in them. He said that these e-passports will be issued by 2019-end or early 2020 and all the old passports will be replaced.
He also pointed out that the RPO Hyderabad is keeping the pendency of issuing of passports to a minimum. Reddy said that as of now only 2,500 passport applications are pending and more than half of them are pending from the applicant’s side. Last year, the RPO Hyderabad region issued 5.2 lakh passports while in the first six months of 2019 it had already issued 2.69 lakh passports. In terms of overall performance, Telangana stood second in the last financial year for taking the shortest period of time taken for passport police verification at just four days, he added.
Menace of fake websites
Fake websites posing as genuine government ones, take the data from gullible passport applicants and charge them Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000. The websites look genuine, but instead of the domain name ‘gov.in’ they have domain names ending with .org, .com or .in