By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 1 October 2018
Tibetans in India eligible to apply for Indian passport continue to face harassment and roadblocks despite the court order to grant them passports.
The Minister of External Affairs issued directives streamlining the processing of passport applications, but the Tibetans still face run-around at every step.
Following a High Court of Delhi order on 14 September 2018 to streamline processing of passport applications, MEA sent a directive on 17 September to all the passport-issuing authorities to allow surrender of Tibetans’ Registration Certificate (RC) and Identity Certificate (IC) at their offices. But Tibetans are now being told that they will have to come back again later, after their RC is sent to the applicable FRO, who will cancel the RC.
A fresh applicant who went to Shimla to submit his application last week told Tibet Sun that the officials at the RPO were interpreting the MEA directive differently, making the process more difficult rather than less.
The person, who did not wish to be named, said that according to the MEA directive, one could go with their application and surrender their RC and IC then and there at the same time of submitting the application.
“I was sent from one office to another, then they told me to come back to apply after my RC has been cancelled by the FRO. They didn’t have any idea how and when I will be informed about the RC cancellation by the FRO. The wait seems to be long, ” he said.
The applicant was informed that the IC would be sent to Delhi for cancellation. However, the government directive states that the RPOs would accept the surrender of the IC.
“I thought that the government’s directive streamlining the process would make it easier to apply for a passport, but this is turning out to be a nightmare,” the frustrated applicant said.
Meanwhile, another fresh applicant from Bandhara Tibetan settlement, who applied in Nagpur RPO has been told that she was not eligible to apply, saying that her parents were not born in India between 1950-1987, although she herself was born in India in 1978, making her qualify for passport.
The Citizenship Law of India 1955 says that anybody born in India between 26 January 1950 and 1 July 1987 are citizens of India, and therefore eligible for Indian passport.
Speaking to Tibet Sun, this applicant said, “The official was not budging from her stand despite my requests that she was understanding it incorrectly. I was born in India in 1978, and I am eligible to apply for a passport irrespective of where my parents were born.”
Seeing no other option, this applicant is now planning to file a case in the court.
Over the last two years, for every step of the passport application process, officials have refused to follow the application rules, or even invented their own rules in order to block the process. Many Tibetans have had to seek the help of the courts to get their passports, despite the clear orders from those same courts.