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Interfaith Couple's Passports Cleared, Probe Says Lucknow Official Exceeded Brief

Interfaith Couples Passports Cleared, Probe Says Lucknow Official Exceeded Brief

Lucknow/New Delhi: The Regional Passport Office in Lucknow has approved the passports issued to an interfaith couple caught in a row last month.

Sources in Delhi also said that an internal government probe has found that the passport official in Lucknow who dealt with the couple's case and the police there had exceeded their brief by asking "irrelevant" questions
"The passports of Tanvi Seth and Anas Siddiqui have been cleared," Regional Passport Officer (RPO) Piyush Verma told PTI in Lucknow today.
The couple had alleged harassment by a passport official, saying they were targeted because of their interfaith marriage. Piyush Verma said there was no adverse report from the police which conducted a verification of the couple under the Ministry of External Affairs guidelines.
He said under the new MEA rules which came into force in June, the police report only on six points related to criminal antecedents and citizenship. In an attempt to ease the police verification process, the MEA had in June reduced the number of questions applicants have to answer from nine to six, restricting the focus on any criminal antecedents, he said.
The controversy arose on June 20 when Tanvi Seth and Mohammad Anas Siddiqui, who have been married for 12 years, wrote on Twitter that they had been humiliated at the passport office in Lucknow.
They had alleged that official Vikas Mishra asked Siddiqui to convert to Hinduism and pulled up Seth for marrying a Muslim when they went to there to file their passport applications.
On June 21, the RPO transferred Mishra to Gorakhpur and issued passports to the couple.
The couple had tagged External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and following the official's transfer the minister was trolled on Twitter. The local police sent its report to the RPO office on June 26, saying Tanvi Seth had been living in Noida, and not Lucknow as mentioned in her application, for the past one year.
An internal government probe has found that the Lucknow passport officer was wrong in asking the couple questions about their religion when they visited his office with their applications, sources said in Delhi today. They said the official had exceeded his brief. They added that the Uttar Pradesh Police were also wrong in probing about the place of the couple's residence during the verification process. PTI

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