A day after an official at the Lucknow Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) allegedly harassed an inter-faith couple, he was transferred to Gorakhpur on Thursday following directives from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Vikas Mishra, the transferred official who has also been showcaused, claimed he had done no wrong and was simply following protocol.
The issue had come into focus after Tanvi Seth and her husband Mohammad Anas Siddiqui took to Twitter following the alleged harassment Wednesday. They claimed Mishra, who is a senior superintendent and a granting officer, harassed them over the woman’s name. He had allegedly also asked the man to convert to Hinduism, and her to change her name in all her documents. He allegedly yelled at her when she refused to do so.
“I did not misbehave with them and neither did I ask them to change their name or religion,” Mishra told The Indian Express on Thursday. “After getting their biometric and document verification done, the woman came to me at counter C-5. I found she had identified herself as Tanvi Seth in her application, but her nikahnaama identified her as Shadia Anas.”
While applying for passport, applicants are asked whether they had ever changed their name.
“She had selected the option ‘no’ in the application. I found that questionable,” said Vikas Mishra.
However, according to MEA rules, married applicants would not be required to provide any marriage certificate, including the nikahnaama.
“But I could not overlook two different names when there were documents before me,” said Mishra. “I merely asked her to mention the change of name in her application, but she refused. Then I asked her to talk to my senior. My job is to check the documents and I would be held responsible if I grant a wrong passport. What if she already has a passport with the name Shadia Anas, or what if she applies for one in the future? When I came to know that she is with her husband, I even asked him to accompany her to the my senior’s office to get it sorted.”
On Wednesday, Anas had told The Indian Express that they met with the assistant passport officer (APO) who “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”.
APO V S Rana could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, a man named Kuldeep Singh from Lucknow claimed on Twitter that the official had not misbehaved with the woman.
According to Kuldeep, he witnessed the incident at around 1pm, which, according to several PSK employees The Indian Express spoke to, is around the same time when the alleged argument was heard.
“I recognised them from the news reports. I was at counter C-2 waiting for my turn on Wednesday,” Kuldeep told The Indian Express. “They were talking about something in her documents related to her name. The official was saying that there was nothing he could do and that she should talk to the APO. He even consulted his colleague at counter C-1 in this regard, who suggested that he not grant the passport from his end. The officer did not misbehave but the woman was loud and tried to get her way.”
Kuldeep Singh claimed that Anas, who was at another counter, was directed to Mishra who asked them to meet the APO. He claimed he saw the couple leave the counter.
Asked for proof of his presence at the PSK, Singh showed an SMS on his mobile phone purportedly confirming his appointment at 10.30 am, and another SMS that he purportedly received after completing the process at the centre.
When contacted for their reaction, Mohammad Anas Sidiqui refused to speak on the issue.
A native of Aminabad area of Lucknow, Anas and Tanvi married in 2007. They have a six-year-old daughter. The couple work in a private firm in Noida, and had come to Lucknow on June 10.