Asserting that very soon the people will get their passports within two weeks of applying in Jammu and Kashmir, Regional Passport Officer (RPO), Srinagar, B B Nagar said that the entire police verification process for new applications will be done online in the next three to four months.
Meanwhile, Mr Nagar said that the Regional Passport Office, Srinagar had issued 85,107 passports in 2018, of which over 15,000 were for Haj and Umrah.
“Previously, there were three stake holders for passport verifications in J&K — state police, CID and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). But, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was kind enough to remove MEA from this process. Ms Sushma asserted that if passports are procured with 21 days of applying in other countries, the same should happen in India… she said that process should also work in J&K as well,” Mr Nagar said.
Therefore, he said the MEA has approved the proposal for making the entire police verification process online and the same will be operational in the state in the next three to four months.
“It takes only two days for our passport office to process an application after the applicant comes for an appointment. On the first day, we take picture of the applicant and his bio-metrics. On the second day, we send the details to police for verification,” the RPO, Srinagar, said while explaining the process of passport verification.
However, he said the police till now used to work in offline mode. “Police and CID used to send their reports to Additional Director General (ADG) Police through post. Then ADG used to send the report again to us through post,” he said.
“Currently, the Darbar offices are in Jammu and it takes about 15 days for ADG to receive reports from Police and CID and another 15 days for us to receive the report from the ADG. So, people in Kashmir suffer in winter months and during summers, the people of Jammu suffer as the Darbar officers are in Srinagar,” he said.
Mr Nagar said the issue was taken up with MEA following which approval for the police verification to go online was given. “The process is in pipeline and once the police verification goes online, the applicant will have their passport within two weeks of applying,” he added.
Meanwhile, urging people to check the validity of their passports before planning a tour, the RPO, Srinagar said that 8,000 passports were given on priority basis, on the same day, so the people can perform Haj and Umrah in 2018.
“People here go for Haj and Umrah. But, before applying for the same they should first check if the validity of their passports is more than one year or not. People here rely on Travel agents… without checking the validity of their passports; they get their tickets and visa done. Sometimes people even receive approval for Haj. But when they check their passport, it doesn’t have validity of one year,” he said, adding that in such a cases people can’t undertake the journey.