Passport Officer Humiliates Inter-Faith Couple & Asks Husband To Change Religion, Transferred
[Update: The article has been updated with the accused officer Vikas Mishra’s statement.]
An inter-faith couple, who went to a local passport office in Lucknow, were subjected to moral policing before their applications were rejected. Tanvi Seth, who is married to Mohammed Anas Siddiqui for over a decade, narrated her humiliating ordeal on Twitter asking the Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj for help. The officer against whom the allegations are levelled has been transferred according to News18.
Tanvi Seth and Mohammed Anas Siddique got married in 2007 in Lucknow and are parents to a 6-year-old daughter. Tanvi applied for a fresh passport on June 19 and her husband applied for a reissue. They took an appointment for June 20 at the Regional Passport Office at Ratan Square in Lucknow.
The accused officer, Vikas Mishra said in a statement that he only urged Tanvi Seth to change her name according to the Nikahnama. “Asked Tanvi Seth to get the name ‘Shadia Anas’ endorsed as it was mentioned on her Nikahnama but she refused. We have to do thorough checks to ensure no person is changing their name to obtain a passport,” Mishra said in a statement.
Humiliated and Shamed
On June 20, they cleared the first two rounds and their harassment started on the third counter when they had to interact with an officer.
Speaking to The Quint, Seth said, “The gentleman at the counter (Vikas Mishra), looked at my documents and exclaimed saying ‘There is a problem and your passport can’t be made because apne toh ek Muslim se Shaadi ki hai (you have married a Muslim man)’.”
In a series of five tweets, she explained her humiliation.
The officer also asked why she had kept her maiden name even after so many years of marriage. He shouted, humiliated and insulted Seth. The abuse did not end there, her husband was further told that if he wanted to get his application approved, he would have to take pheras (a Hindu ritual of going around the sacred fire during marriage). He further asked him to convert to Hinduism.
Speaking to News18, Anas 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.”
After she made her ordeal public, the regional passport office, Lucknow tweeted “We assure proper investigation and appropriate action. We will contact you tomorrow positively.”
We assure proper investigation and appropriate action. We will contact you tomorrow positively.
— RPO Lucknow (@rpolucknow) June 20, 2018
Regional Passport Officer Peeyush Verma told The Times of India “The incident has happened and the couple will be coming to the office in Gomtinagar in Lucknow on Thursday. I will look into the matter and take appropriate action.” Hours after the incident, secretary of external affairs ministry D M Mulay took cognizance of the matter and assured “appropriate action”. The passport officer, Vikas Mishra has been transferred.
— D. M. Mulay (@CPVIndia) June 20, 2018
The Logical Indian Take
We have reached such a point where people are forgetting to draw a line between their professional lives and their personal and political ideologies. The moral policing by the passport officer shows nothing but bigotry and communal bias. He had no right to comment on a stranger’s marriage and personal choices, neither did he have the right to reject their passport applications because of his own prejudice. In a “secular” country like India, it’s high time we remove the veil of religious bias and treat people as equals.