Followed protocol in issuing passports to Lucknow inter-faith couple: MEA

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NEW DELHI, JULY 04,
Authorities followed the required rules in issuing passports to an inter-faith couple of Lucknow, an official source said here on Wednesday, in defence of the action of the MEA in a case that triggered online harassment of the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
The source also informed that the staff member who was held initially responsible for discriminating against the couple on religious grounds remains transferred.
“Ministry of External Affairs followed due protocol in issuing passports to Lucknow interfaith couple. Marriage certificate is not a needed document for passport. Other documents produced were consistent with requirement for passport issuance,” he said explaining that the two were issued the travel documents on the basis of their individual citizenship of India.
The case hit the headlines when the couple – Tanvi Seth and Anas Siddiqui – complained that a passport issuing official, Vikas Mishra in the Regional Passport Office of Lucknow had made discriminatory remarks indicating that Mr Siddiqui should change his religion to acquire the Indian passport. Subsequently, MEA transferred the official and issued passports to the couple.
“Vikas Mishra overstepped the bound of duty and remains posted in Gorakhpur. He is not suspended and transfers are routine affairs,” said the official. The MEA said that there was no reason to delay the passport delivery to both the applicants as they did not have any criminal record with the police.
“An adverse police report can only be given if there is any criminal record proven or that the individual’s citizenship of India is questionable. This was not the case. So passport was issued,” the official said.
The case triggered savage online attacks on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who continues to receive flak from social media users for MEA’s decision to issue passports to the couple.

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