I get to see a lot of click bait stories, after all I spend a lot of time on social media. This one did not even sound like a click bait. It has been published by a Facebook page called Humans of Amsterdam. It is a story of an Indian girl who was caught in a bad marriage. I perfectly understand that, there are many like her. But the story got bizarre when the girl claims her entire bag went missing inside her house along with her passport. You can read the full story here. But then she talks about getting another Indian passport which definitely a work of fiction. Quoting from the story in bold and responding after it.
“I woke up the next day and I noticed that my bag with my passport, phone and credit cards was missing. I panicked and confronted my in-laws. They said that they had nothing to do with my missing bag and that someone must have broken in and stole it.”
Then why not file a FIR with the police?
“Slowly I started to realize how serious the situation was. My two weeks off were almost finished and I had to get to my job in Amsterdam. To get a new passport in India it takes at least 3 months and a signature of your father or husband.”
This is the bit that gets me mad. As the story is posted on Humans of Amsterdam many foreigners are demanding that the draconian Indian law be changed. My question is which law? The Indian passport process is online. If anyone was really interested in verifying this bit of the story all they need to do is Google “Indian Passport” and verify the story.
But since this is bout India and it is an “oppressed woman” story no one will doubt one word of it. And that is how it should be actually. And that is why I get mad when I read lies regarding the Indian passport process. Anyone who is really interested in the Indian passport process can download the Indian passport application form from this link and see if it really requires a father’s or husband’s signature. Where will the poor husbands and fathers sign, there is no such column.
But no one will do it, it is a story about India where women are repressed and laws are archaic. I have had three passports (one at a time, because the previous ones expired) and never did I need anyone else to sign my application. But then what do I know!
“I have never felt so hopeless in my entire life but I wasn’t about to give up. I emailed my boss and I told him I was in a serious emergency and that I needed 2 more weeks to fix it, luckily he agreed. The image of my life back in Amsterdam was what kept me going. Meanwhile I was trying to figure out how to get my documents back. With the help of my sister I sneaked out of the house and went to a government building. I was neatly dressed and somehow I managed to enter the building. The security must have thought that I was a government official.”
100s of people will try this trick on the security guard in India. He can only keep his job if he can prevent it. What if next time he lets in someone who is a security threat? But security threat be damned.
“I walked into the building and a young female officer approached me and asked if she could help me. I noticed that she trusted me and I told her I had lost my bag in a mall and I had to get back to Amsterdam. I wanted to be honest but I couldn’t tell her the truth. She immediately called her friend who was working at the passport office and made an appointment for for me the next day. She gave me a letter of recommendation and the next day I went to the passport office. I sat there for 10 hours and when it was my turn they told me that in order to get a new passport I would need a signature of my father or husband.”
If you actually lost your passport you need to file a FIR (first information report with the police) and only then apply for a new passport. Indian passport office is not open for 10 hours. They open only for 8 hours. This also includes half an hour lunch break. Check out the answer in the link for question no 6.
And once again where will the husband/father sign? There are no separate passport applications form for men and women in India. There is one common form which has no such column.
“Again, I lied and said they were out of the country. I ended up convincing her and she gave me an approval. If I had been honest I would have never gotten it. 5 days later I could pick up my passport at the post office. Now I had my passport but I still didn’t have my residency card for The Netherlands. I called up the Embassy of Netherlands in Amsterdam and explained my situation. They were very helpful and emailed me a recommendation letter. “
Yes someone is not being honest here, someone is lying because Indian passport process does not require a signature from father/husband. Which makes me wonder, why? Why lie about something in this age when everything is online and can be verified with the click of a mouse.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not denying patriarchy and its associated problems in India. But the passport process described in this Humans of Amsterdam story is pure fiction. It has been picked up by other sites and there is a demand for changing the passport laws. I wonder how long till someone starts a petition?
Do sites like Humans of Amsterdam (and others like ScoopWhoop who picked it up) have any editorial processes? I mean ‘who needs to sign an Indian passport application form’ is easily verifiable with a few clicks of mouse. Should we be that lazy? Or that gullible?
Let me reiterate I love my Indian passport and I don’t need my husband’s or father’s signature to get it. There are no such columns in the application form, period. They cannot sign even if they wanted to!