Half a dozen such agents have been handed over to the Sector 34 police station in the past few weeks
The Hush Post: Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) at Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Ambala have been asked by the Regional Passport Office, Chandigarh, not to allow any agent within a radius of 100 metres of the respective passport offices. Tight vigil has been ordered in Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Ambala passport offices to discourage agents targeting naive applicants.
Written warnings have been displayed in the premises of passport offices asking agents to stay outside the specified periphery. Talking to a national daily, Regional Passport Officer (RPO) Sibash Kabiraj said directions have been issued following a spate of incidents where agents were found defrauding naïve applicants.
The Post Office Passport Seva Kendras (POPSKs) across the state have also been asked to be vigilant and report the matter to the RPO. Talking about the modus operandi of the touts, the RPO said they took innocent people for a ride by getting an application written on a plain paper. Then they tell them to go to a particular room. Following this, the application of these applicants would in any case get processed in routine procedure. But, the touts would project that the application was processed through the agent’s contacts and would demand anywhere between ?15,000 to ?25,000 as fee. Nearly half a dozen such agents have been handed over to the Sector 34 police station in the past few weeks, the RPO said.
25 districts are covered under the Regional Passport Officer, Chandigarh, including the Union Territory of Chandigarh; 12 districts of Punjab — SAS Nagar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ropar, Bathinda, Sangrur, Barnala, Patiala, Mansa, Ludhiana, Khanna, Jagraon, and 12 districts of Haryana — Panchkula, Ambala, Jind, Karnal, Kaithal, Kurukshetra, Panipat, Bhiwani, Yamuna nagar, Hisar, Fatehabad, Sirsa.
A few months back, Foreign Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had relaxed rules for getting passport made, like applicants can get their passport made at any Regional Passport Office (RPO) of their choice irrespective of the RPO jurisdiction over the residential address furnished in the application.
F-token facility has also been introduced for children below the age of six, their parents, senior citizens and differently abled applicants which entitles them for a top priority processing of their application.