Sunday, July 25, 2010

Passport Saga III

Got the passport. In complete ecstasy for a few hours. Till I found out that the ECR (Emigration Check Required) stamp on my passport means that I have to either:

1) go to Protector of Emigrants (PoE) in Delhi/Mumbai/Chennai/Trivandrum, an organization well known for its corruption, who will give me a suspension of ECR or an emigration clearance

2) go to Passport Office, Bangalore once again, stand in line at 9:00 AM, give attested copies of my 10+2 certificates and Rs. 300 to get an ECNR (Emigration Check Not Required) stamp, hopefully on the same day

3) go to UAE only for purposes other than employment, show the return ticket to airport officials

And how did I get the ECR stamp in the first place? ECR stamp would not be affixed if I had submitted a copy of my 10+2 certificate in the application. I had submitted the copies and under Document for ECNR had mentioned 10+2/PUC certificate. However the Bangalore One person said the certificate was not needed since my old passport, which was being submitted with the application, already showed that I was ECNR.

An over-smart Bangalore One official who thought he knew everything better than me will cost me more delay and Rs. 300.

And the request to correct my father's name spelling, which I had submitted to the Passport official after all the waiting in line and getting token and such was not done. And that too, a Bangalore One official had misspelled my father's name. True, I had to check if it was correct when they gave the receipt, but they had to copy the spelling from my application correctly as well.

The only thing the Bangalore One people were concerned about was following their own list of documents to be submitted, to be submitted in triplicate!

Because of them I have a misspelled father's name and an ECR stamp on my passport.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Passport Saga II

Turns out the police here did their job on time with their verification report. I had to go and put my application on priority (indirect tatkaal). Otherwise it would have taken me another month and a half to get the passport.

I have been promised the date of 22 July. Everything did go amazingly smoothly on 15 July. One amazing instance in which the tatkaal form counter was about to close at 12:00 pm and I was there exactly as the time turned 12:00 pm. If I was a minute late I would have had to come back next day.

I suspect the long delays are caused by the staff being directed towards the new Passport Seva Project issuing the quick e-passports. They are so very eager to make the new project a success that a 3-month delay over the official 45-day time period for the older applicants is just not an issue.

Anyway, I am glad they pushed forward my application without extra charge.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Passport Saga

I had applied for passport through Bangalore One on 4 May 2010. The passport processing time mentioned on the website is 45 days.

I knew that India being a third world country, things would be difficult. My strategy was to be accurate and correct in all the documents required to get the passport. In other words, do it in completely the right way. I should think it has worked for me.

But I have not yet got the passport. The only online status message I get is this since the past two months:

Your police verification report has not been received by us yet. You may like to follow up with the concerned police autorities. If you need your passport urgently, you have the option of applying under tatkaal, with a Verification Certificate (Annexure-F).

My inference from this scary-looking message, naturally, is that I need to follow up with the police authorities. 

This I did by calling up the police officer who did my verification. He asks me to go to the passport section of the commissioner's office. When he had done the verification on 12 May 2010, I gave him Rs. 200 at the station, he had demanded Rs. 500. I gave him the money because I was immensely happy at the time that I was getting out of here. After 15 long years, which I do not know how I manged to survive in this country. Back to Sharjah, which is my real home, even if it is only for a short time due to visa rules and what not. On my way out of the station, he threatened me that he will not help me in future.

But soon the reality sunk in that they are not going to give me the passport without putting me through a lot more hell.

I had been told to go to the Police Commissioner's Office, Bangalore. Spent a lot of money getting there. Curious thing there: Give your details to the guy sitting outside before 1:00 pm and come back at 4:00 pm for an answer. Waste your life till then.

I did so. Then he says, get the COP number from the police station where you did the verification. Great. I protested all I could but I had to go back, soaked in the rain to get it from the corrupt officer who did my verification. 20 km away, on my scooter.

The officer argued with me a long time before he gave me the COP number. For what?

By now it was too late anyway. So, the next day I go to the Police Commissioner's Office at 10:00 am and wait till 4:00 pm, as usual. Then I get an answer: Koramangala Office,12/7

What on earth could it mean? The guy didn't have the time or the inclination to be a little more clearer. I ask another applicant nearby who seemed to understand, and he says to go to the Koramangala Passport Office on 12 July 2010 to get your passport. I was happy.

Today it is 13 July 2010, 70 days since I applied for passport. However, the online status still hasn't changed: 

Your police verification report has not been received by us yet. You may like to follow up with the concerned police autorities. If you need your passport urgently, you have the option of applying under tatkaal, with a Verification Certificate (Annexure-F).

Hardships faced by others in getting an Indian passport and the stupendous inhuman corruption they face: