Friday, January 22, 2010

Passport to passport office: illegally sold entry tokens

Passport to passport office: illegally sold entry tokens
By: Manjunath L Hanji and Syed Hidayath Date: 2010-01-22 Place: Bangalore

MiD DAY finds cops at Regional Passport Office distribute only about 100 gate passes a day instead of 250, keep rest for touts to sell

The Regional Passport Office is supposed to issue 250 gate passes every day from 7 am to 9 am, to ensure that the visitors are let in on a first-come-first-serve basis, and enable the office staff to complete the job efficiently. But what actually happens is very different.

The policemen, with help from touts and some officials, distribute just around 100 tokens and the rest are sold in black.

Going by the records, the scam must easily fetch the police and the staff from Rs 25,000 to 30,000 a day, to be shared among them. Over 1,500 people visit the passport office everyday.

The tout story

Posing as visitors, we visited the passport office on the pretext of getting a gate pass and clinched a deal with the policeman and a tout.

The tout enquired casually whether our work was done. When we replied in the negative, he took us to a
photocopying shop opposite to the passport office, and introduced us to another agent.

The agent demanded Rs 250 in exchange for a token, saying that the money would be shared between his associates, including those who sit inside the office.

The tout also assured us that he could get any job done for a price from expediting the application process to time spent in standing in the queue, to submitting a form faster and finally obtaining a submission report.

He claimed that his friends were positioned inside the office and they would get the job done at the earliest.
In order to find out more, we decided to approach the police guarding the front gate of the office.

The police story

The police constable (to whom we had already paid Rs 200 on Wednesday) agreed to help, but for an extra price.

He not only allowed us inside the office but also helped us get an application form, bypassing the serpentine queue.

The constable went to the superintendent's (enquiry) counter and muttered something to him. This ensured that our papers were instantly processed. This cost us Rs 100.

When questioned, the Joint Commissioner of Police, K H Srinivasan expressed shock, "If anybody has such a complaint, then we will look into the matter and suspend the erring officials."


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