Chandigarh: A delegation of Congress MPs led by Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee president and Member Parliament from Gurdaspar Sunil Jakhar met with Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj at her office in Sansad Bhawan, New Delhi to raise the problems faced by passport and study visa seekers of state. He also discussed the issue of NRI grooms with her during this meeting to safeguard the interest of brides.
The delegation led by the Jakhar included Ravneet Singh Bittu, MP Ludhiana and Gurjit Singh Aujla, MP Amritsar. While raising the problems faced by people at Passport Kendras Jakhar said that though there are about a half dozen passport kendras/centres in various parts of Punjab, but applicants continue to suffer major hardships in securing their passports, with some of them forced to travel as much as 200 kms for verification of their documents.
He said that while facility of online submission of application is available at the Passport Centers, established in state, the applicants are asked to personally visit Passport Seva Kendras for physical verification of documents on the appointed time and date. "What aggravates their woes is that they are often sent back for failing to enclose all the requisite documents or are asked to furnish more proofs in support of their claim for change of name etc”, he added.
He asked Swaraj to issue directions to these Centers to ensure that all uploaded data or other requisite information furnished by the applicant online is checked carefully, and the applicants are apprised about any shortcoming/deficiency in their application through e-mail, prior to giving them an appointment. "This will save them from undue harassment, besides wastage of time and energy”, he added.
PPCC President also said that Ministry recently established Passport Kendra at Bathinda in Malwa belt, but people residing in the nearby districts of Fazilka, Sri Muktsar Sahib and Faridkot still have to travel 200 kilometers for the verification of documents at Passport Seva Kendra, Amritsar. He said that it is extremely imperative that these districts be attached to the Passport Seva Kendra of Bathinda. He also demanded to open more Passport Seva Kendras in Punjab to cope with the increasing rush of applicants desirous of getting their passports.
While sharing another issue of concern about the problems faced by youth migrating to Australia, New Zealand and Canada on Study Visa, Jakhar said that they are solely dependent on the services rendered by private agents. He said that these students are neither even aware of the recognition status of the educational institution, in which they are seeking admission on the recommendation of the agent nor are they aware of the hardships they are likely to face in getting Permanent Residency after completion of their studies.
Suggesting a way of addressing this problem Sunil said that at least in these three countries where a large number of Indian students migrate every year, information about recognized colleges, courses and fee structure, besides technical details, be provided on the official website of the Ministry of Overseas so as to properly guide these students before they leave for foreign lands. He asked MoEA to issue the necessary directions in this regard so that such facility is made available to student visa seekers at the earliest, and so they do not fall prey to unscrupulous agents.
Further raising another issue with Minister, Member Paliament Sunil Jakhar said that many NRI men come to India to marry Indian girls, and quickly return to the foreign lands after taking hefty dowry and leaving their wives here in the lurch. "Many of these men are found to be already married abroad, rendering their marriage in India null and void”, he added.
He suggested the MoEA that the Ministry of External Affairs put in place a foolproof mechanism to ascertain their marital status. He said that this step would enable the parents of the girls to verify the antecedents of the prospective grooms. He demanded that a concrete policy should be formulated in this regard as a deterrent for erring NRI grooms so that innocent girls are not victimized.
During the meeting he also raised an issue related to Dilawar Singh of Pathankot who was stuck in Saudi Arabia. Dilawar is currently residing at Rashal Khar (Jubail) in UAE. Jakhar said that as per information provided by Dilawar’s wife Nisha, his passport is in illegal custody of his employer in UAE, who is not returning it to him despite repeated requests while his parents and wife all are seriously ill and there is nobody in the family to look after the children, his wife and parents. He asked MoEA to to direct the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia to take necessary action to help Dilawar Singh get his passport back in order to enable him to travel to India immediately, as per his family’s request.
After meeting while speaking to media Jakhar said that MoEA Sushma Swaraj told that Ministry will do all the best to address these issues. She said that ministry will start a website to upload the summons to NRI Grooms and if they will not respond to these summons their property in India could be attached.