An inter-faith married couple from Uttar Pradesh were in for a rude shock when an official at the Passport Sewa Kendra in Lucknow on Wednesday allegedly questioned the woman for marrying a Muslim man and asked the husband to "convert" to Hinduism.
The accused passport officer was transferred on Thursday, a day after the incident took place.
In a series of tweets directed at External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Tanvi Seth claimed she was ill-treated by a passport officer named Vikas Mishra because she married a Muslim and did not change her name.
@SushmaSwaraj hello ma’am I type this tweet with immense faith in justice and in you and ironically with a lot of anger / hurt and agony in my heart because of the way I was treated at the Lucknow passport office at Ratan Square by Mr. Vikas Mishra the reason because I marri 1/2
— Tanvi Seth (@tanvianas) June 20, 2018
@SushmaSwaraj 2/2 married a Muslim and not changed my name ever. He spoke to me very rudely and was loud enough for others to hear while discussing my case. I have never felt so harassed ever before. The other workers at the office acknowledged his rude demeanour.
— Tanvi Seth (@tanvianas) June 20, 2018
@SushmaSwaraj Ma’am I never ever imagined that in a place like passport office we would have a people who are moral policing the citizens. He dint just put my passport on hold he even put my husband’s @5220manas passport on hold. This is clear grudge. I was shocked at this 1/2 — Tanvi Seth (@tanvianas) June 20, 2018
@SushmaSwaraj behaviour. I have never felt so insulted in the last 12 years of my marriage with my husband. It is my personal choice to choose a name I want to after marriage. This is our family matter and last thing I expected to hear at the passport office was 2/3 — Tanvi Seth (@tanvianas) June 20, 2018
According to The Quint, Seth, who had applied for a fresh passport, and her husband, Anas Siddiqui, who applied for a reissue, had gone to the regional passport office at Lucknow's Ratan Square on Wednesday when the incident occurred. "The gentleman at the counter (Vikas Mishra), looked at my documents and exclaimed saying ‘There is a problem and your passport can’t be made because apne toh ek Muslim se shaadi ki hai (you have married a muslim man)’," the report quoted Seth as saying.
Seth claimed that though her documents were compete, her file was stopped. Mishra reportedly insulted Siddiqui and asked him to convert to Hinduism in order to ensure his reissue request was processed. "He told Anas to convert to Hinduism for his passport to be renewed. This is a case of moral policing and religious prejudice. I was made to feel insulted; I broke down," Seth wrote in a tweet to Swaraj.
She further wrote: "I have never felt so insulted in the last 12 years of my marriage with my husband. It is my personal choice to choose a name I want to after marriage."
According to The Times of India, the couple also sent an email to Sushma detailing their ordeal. As per a copy of the letter tweeted by Siddiqui, Seth alleged that Mishra said every girl has to change her name after marriage. "He replied by saying ‘it your duty to change your name marriage. Every girl has to do that’,” she wrote in the letter. When she said that she did not want to change her name and that her family had no problem with it, Mishra reportedly sent her to the assistant passport officer (APO).
After Seth left to meet the APO, Mishra asked Siddiqui to convert to Hinduism and asked him to perform the "pheras". “He asked me to convert my religion as Tanvi Seth is mentioned as my wife on my passport documents. He even humiliated me by asking me to convert my name, religion, do phera and said a lot of things related to this,” The Wire quoted Siddiqui as saying.
Errant officer transferred
According to CNN-News18, Mishra was transferred from the Regional Passport Office in Lucknow.
Speaking to ANI on Thursday, an official said, "Their passports have been issued. A show cause notice has been issued to the official who was at fault, action will also be taken. We regret the incident and will ensure it is not repeated."
On Wednesday, responding to the incident, MEA secretary (Consular, Passport, Visa) DM Mulay had said he sought a report from the Regional Passport Office in Lucknow. "Regret for inconvenience. I sought report from @rpolucknow Will take appropriate action," he said in a tweet.
The Regional Passport Office in Lucknow had also assured "proper investigation and appropriate action".
Updated Date: Jun 21, 2018 11:31 AM