NEW DELHI: Vikas Mishra, the Lucknow passport officer + in the eye of a storm for allegedly bigoted behaviour toward an interfaith couple + , today defended the questions he asked of the couple saying he was just following procedure.
Mishra, who was transferred today from Lucknow to Gorakhpur, for reportedly mistreating the Hindu wife-Muslim husband couple, said the wife had a different name in her ‘nikahnama’, or wedding certificate, compared with her other documents, which is why he asked for more proof. He also denied saying “it is a duty for a woman to get her name changed after marriage”. or telling the husband he should “convert to Hinduism”.
The couple, Tanvi Seth and Anas Siddiqui, says that Mishra told them “there was an issue with my file since I had married a Muslim, and yet retained my maiden name”, which is when he also reportedly said she must “dutifully” change her name after marriage. They also tweeted to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
“Incorrect,” says Mishra, giving his version of what transpired yesterday.
“She was showing nikahnama that had her name as ‘Shazia Anas’ but had said on documents that she has not changed her name Why did she not endorse this on paper? I asked her to endorse her ‘nikah’ name, but she said she did not want to do that, which is when I sent her to the higher official,” said Mishra.
The passport officer denied he discriminated based on religion.
“I myself have done an inter-caste marriage. I am not communal and respect and sit with people of all religions,” said Mishra.
Earlier today, the regional passport officer in Lucknow announced that Mishra had been transferred and served a show-cause notice. The external affairs ministry also sought a report from the Lucknow office about the unsavoury episode from yesterday.
It all began yesterday when Tanvi tweeted to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj about the mistreatment she and her husband Anas faced from the official, Mishra, at the Passport Sewa Kendra at Lucknow’s Ratan Square.
“When I reached counter C5, the official, Vikas Mishra, told me there was an issue with my file since I had married a Muslim, and yet retained my maiden name. He shouted at me and insulted me in front of everyone and sent me to the office of an additional passport officer, who was sympathetic to me and asked me to reach the main branch in Gomtinagar on Thursday,” said Tanvi, who has a six-year-old daughter with Anas, to TOI.
Tanvi said all her documents were in order but her file was still stalled. The official also called out Anas’s name in front of everyone and insulted him, too.
“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,” said Tanvi in a tweet addressed to Swaraj.
In a five-part tweet to the minister, and in an email to her, Tanvi also said that she was also asked to “change her name as is the duty of all girls after marriage”. In addition, her husband Anas was asked to “convert to Hinduism and take pheras” if he wanted his passport renewed, she alleged.
Dr Swamy bought new angle to this story asking “Is it true Sadia Anas was denied H1 Visa because she bore an Islamic name? PTs check and inform me.”
Is it true Sadia Anas was denied H1 Visa because she bore an Islamic name? PTs check and inform me.
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) June 22, 2018
@SushmaSwaraj Madam, the #PassportToPolitics is not a great thing, the individual did the right thing. This Lady passport cannot be given in #TanviSeth name? Why this bogey of different religion marriage. @Shehzad_Ind
— Puneet Sinha (@sinhapuneet) June 22, 2018
This must be investigated to see if Tanvi seth was trying to get rid of her Islamic name as VISA was rejected?
If proven, Couple must be Jailed and officer has to be reinstated with Promotion.