Srinagar- In a move that will bring relief to thousands of people applying for travel documents, the government is connecting the Regional Passport Office (RPO), Srinagar with all the police stations across Kashmir Valley through an online system to expedite the verification process.
Passport Officer Kashmir and Ladakh Division, Nishith Kumar Shil told Kashmir Observer on Thursday that the current manual model is being replaced with an online model, wherein process of the security clearance will be sought electronically.
“Earlier, we would send a request for security clearance to the district Superintendent of police (SP). Then, the cops from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) would call the applicant and seek the details manually,” Shil said.
He said this process was time consuming and would normally take at least 21 days.
“But now, we have an end to end process. With the latest model, the passport office would directly seek the verification from the concerned police station or police post of the applicant through online mode,” he said.
“It normally takes two months to issue a fresh passport. However, with the new model, the process will not take more than a month,” he added.
According to Shil, the pilot project will be inaugurated from Ganderbal district and later implemented in other districts, if it becomes successful.
“We will also request the police to have a dedicated official for this process so that the applicant gets a passport within a month,” he added.
Pertinently, the RPO, Srinagar usually witnesses an unprecedented rush of applicants. On average, the office receives around eight thousand applications for passports every month.
While responding to this question, Shil said they issue a time slot to each applicant for the personal verification, many of them from other districts of the Union Territory.
“The rush is witnessed when the applicants from other districts visit the office early. And since international restrictions on travel after COVID-19 was revoked, there is a high demand for passports,” he said.
An official from CID told Kashmir Observer that the new model will surely unburden the extra work load and is a “welcome step”.
“Normally, the verification procedure takes about 3 weeks from the receipt of the application, however with the new model it will take less than two weeks now, ” he said.
He further said that the applicant would get a passport after the two-layer police verifications — from the local police station and the CID.
He said those applicants who have “clean record” in their concerned police stations and CID, are given a go-ahead signal for the passport while the applications of those with “bad police character” are being withheld.
Since Manoj Sinha assumed the charge of Lieutenant Governor of the Union territory, the administration has taken several steps to encourage online services for prompt service delivery for its citizens with an effective feedback mechanism system.
On 30 August, the Government said it has made more than 200 services online for prompt service delivery for its citizens.
The LG’s administration has also made it tough for the “anti-national elements” to get the passports.
However the common people are finding it very convenient to get the passover after the LG administration shifted from offline mode to online.
Maliq Kounser, an applicant from North Kashmir’s Bandipora district told Kashmir Observer that the online mode of getting the passport was easier for them and the officials at the RPO were very co-operative.
“My other relatives who had applied for the passport some years ago had to wait for five months to get the passport. The process was very hectic then. However, in my case it was very smooth and took less time,” Kounser said.
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