The woman had written to Minister of External Affairs (MEA) Sushma Swaraj apprising her about the rude behaviour of the officer who lashed out at her for not changing her name after her marriage with a Muslim man; the officer told her husband to change his religion
The Hush Post: A Hindu-Muslim couple in Lucknow got their passports issued after intervention by External Affaris Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday. The couple had complained to Swaraj a shocking treatment they were meted out at the passport officer in Uttar Pradesh’s state capital Lucknow. An employee of the passport officer had allegedly harassed and humiliated the Hindu-Muslim couple before rejecting their passport applications.
The woman who had faced this ordeal has complained to the Ministry External Affair (MEA) that an employee of the passport office rejected her application and verbally lashed out at her for not changing her name after her marriage with a Muslim man. The woman’s husband has also alleged that a passport office employee even asked him to convert for their marriage to be ‘accepted’, a report said.
The MEA has reportedly promised “appropriate action” against the passport office employee and to issue them their passports, it was reported.
One Tanvi Seth, who is married to Mohammad Anas Siddiqui for the last 11 years, had recently applied for a new passport and her husband had submitted an application for the renewal of his passport. Both are employees of a Noida-based private firm. The couple had been called for an interview on Wednesday, June 20. The initial process went smoothly, until they were sent to go to counter number C-5, the report said.
Tanvi Seth has sent a tweet to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj expressing her anger and hurt at the treatment meted out by an official at a Passport Seva Kendra in Ratan Square in Lucknow, it was reported.
Her husband has also tweeted a letter that gives more details about the harassment faced by them at the hands of a passport official, identified as Vikas Mishra. “Mr Mishra started checking my papers and the moment he saw the form, he exclaimed saying ‘Aapke saath to masla hai. Aapne Muslim se shaadi ki hai to aapka naam Tanvi Seth kaise ho sakta hai? (There is a glitch. You have married a Muslim, so how can your name be Tanvi Seth),” Seth stated in her mail.
She said that there is no law that can force a woman to change her name after getting married and that her maiden name featured on all her legal documents. “He replied by saying ‘it is your duty to change your after name marriage. Every girl has to do that’,” Seth said in the complaint.
She was almost into tears when Mishra said that she should not have married Anas. When she insisted that she didn’t want to change her name and that their families had no problem with it, Mishra asked her to meet with the assistant passport officer (APO), the report said.
When Seth went to meet the APO, Anas said that Mishra turned towards him (Anas) and said in a shouting tone that he had to change his religion. “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,” Anas was quoted as saying by The Wire.
The APO, whom they told about this incident, was sympathetic towards them and told them to file a complaint. “He (APO) said that this is not the first case that they have had like this. He said that my token went to the wrong man and that there have been many complaints about this specific person,” Anas was further quoted.
The couple was told to return on Thursday morning, and Tanvi Seth was told to meet the regional passport officer (RPO)in Lucknow, it was reported.
“This is a clear case of moral policing/religious prejudice and lack of chivalry while talking to a woman. I was made to feel absolutely insulted and demeaned by Mr Mishra to the extent that I broke and had to use my inhaler because of the breathing problem caused by excessive crying. I never expected to be harassed like this at a government office like this,” Seth said in her written complaint to the minister.
Seth said that other employees at the passport office encouraged her to pursue the grievance since the concerned officer is “known for misbehaving”. “It is absolutely harrowing, insulting and demeaning when your case is being discussed loudly enough for other applicants to hear and laugh”, Seth was quoted in the report.
After being tagged by an aide of Swaraj, MEA secretary (CPV) D.M. Mulay sought a report from the Regional Passport Office on Thursday, it was reported.
Later it was reported that the couple was issued their respective passports on Thursday morning and the official who had misbehaved with the couple has been transferred.