Now, in early October 2014, i received a call from the police station in my area -DB Marg. They asked if any police verification was pending? Then again mid October they called& asked when had I got my passport renewed? Had i come to the police station? I replied i cannot remember and one of them had the gall to ask sternly how i couldn’t recollect if had personally visited the police station. I was really annoyed. I had renewed my passport in 2012, thereafter I had visited Europe in 2012 and Krabi Island in 2013, now they had woken to harass me? I too sternly informed them it has been 2 years ago and even gone abroad. Again for 2 months i did not hear from them. Then i received a call in December.
The man on the left, Mr Shinde had called. He was very polite and informed me that i need to personally visit the police station and bring a list of documents that i was required to submit in a day. He said, since i had got my passport from ‘tatkal’ scheme and that entails police verification to be done later. Now, my dear police station and that time Sr PI didn’t do it, worse still the passport registrar’s office did not think of it then. Just to respect the cop’s word, because i felt he was polite, i need to go personally. I reached the station in like 8 minutes.
Here I was in for a surprise. Mr Shinde now treated me like an accused. As soon as i entered he said, “here see madam. You had wrongly written the name of the police station.” I was shocked, i never recall writing name of police station. I said i have not written it, so he accused saying someone did and i should have been more careful. From that moment onwards the conversation was no more a polite talk where they are supposed to help customer. Now this is a ‘help desk’ at a police station, yeah so imagine how helpful it was. That now let me explain is a squeaky small room. Another bulky man sits at the entrance, who is a writer. Then these 2 constables. Behind them is a blank white wall, with no sign of ‘documents required for renewal and verification of passport.” there is a semi-partition on the right, where another bulky officer sits and is never to be seen, he is the senior of this help desk.
Around 7ish at night, i am firstly accused of erroneously writing the name of the police station. It is no breach of law. Then 1 lady sat while i was made to stand as if i am in a witness box. So 1 by 1 i too read aloud the list. I was horrified. I asked repeatedly, 14 documents for police verification? They insisted its less and just bring them along with copies. Impatient at my questioning, the cop seated behind tells this young man, “give this slip to her, if she wants to fill it, let her, else forget it. apla kay jata.” Yeah i had not told them who i was, no, because this real picture would never have unfolded in front of me. Mr Shinde said “madam you have to submit all these documents, else your passport can get cancelled.” Now that was my break point. I was on a war path thereon. I said go ahead cancel, it. Let me see whose father cancels it, go, do it. Then they tried to calm me down. I sounded aghast when i asked them why they needed my bank passbook. Simultaneously i had WhatsAppd my personal banker about the statement part. I irritatingly informed the cops we no more get pass books. Now the minute i said this, Shinde turned to the lady seated and asked if she had brought her passbook. She said yes, he turned round and said “See she has brought hers, what are you saying?” I was livid and said mine is not Shyamrao Vithal or cooperative bank ok. He admitted later he shouldn’t have done this. For me this was the lowest. I was no accused, had committed no crime and being verified by some strange lady who was stupid enough to get 1000 documents, it was a total insult to my intelligence. I came out and raved and ranted to my colleague and friend. Dharmesh had a point, why the hell was i speaking to 2 rude constables? It is a help desk and not a place where i am called for questioning. He asked me to head back and bring up this matter with the Sr PI. He was surprised I had meekly got out.
I asked for the senior PI – he happens to be the head of the station. It was then i gave my visiting card, a journalist. His PS asked me to talk to some Patil, which i outright refused. I was told to wait. At that time somebody saw my visiting card and mumbled about tv reporting, all this i could hear. I asked another crime journalist friend to speak to the sr PI and tell him of my episode. It was an hour after which the Sr PI came.The first thing i asked is as a citizen am i allowed to ask questions? At the outset i praised the constable for being polite on the phone, but said i was disappointed with the whole experience. Meanwhile i put up on twitter my experience and more horror awaited me. In Andheri cops asked for 20 odd documents. Another friend shared his terrible experience.
So the Sr PI like my friend Dharmesh confirmed we need 3 basic documents for renewal of any passport – Proof of Birth & Age, Proof of residence and Proof of Education. One needs to note that. Now for police verification one needs to show – Proof of Birth & Age, Proof of residence. The reason they list 14 documents is because most often people have varying addresses or information on many documents-some give old add proof, some have made changes but do not have it changed on all documents, some don’t have many of these documents. Which i understood. Now i shared my experience verbatim. He fired the hell out of these 2. A week before another lady had complained. And it came as no surprise that ladies asked more relevant questions and it bothered these 2 cops. I like what the Sr PI said, “These are not accused or criminals. You both are here to help them.” They were given orders to respect us. Later as we continued talking, i suggested why don’t they put up a board. The Sr PI summoned Mr Shinde and we returned to his desk making peace.
On the way another police person recognised me and asked Shinde if he knew me and that i was a senior journalist. Shinde by then needed no introduction to me. He apologised and said he should never have asked the lady as he did and should have answered my queries patiently. I too said hey sorry i had to complain to your boss and we made peace. He then advised that i only bring the following originals and 2 xerox copies- Birth certificate, pan card, ration card (yes despite the fact it is no more a valid proof, SBII branch is ancient) and electricity bill. I went the following sunday and both were helpful. They sat and completed my full form. We chatted amicably and were thrilled that i took their photo. They thanked me for telling their boss to put a board for us citizens and also give the cops a better place to sit.
At the end all was fine. But the cops too have a valid point. Keep all your papers in order, ensure all the basic facts like name, age, DOB and address is the same on all legal documents. Else get them changed, so that you do not face problem in future. Most of all, do not fear asking any question, however stupid. Also ask even though it may irritate the police, that is your right. Respond to their calls and go visit the police station. The police only verify and send it up to SBII. but they are there to help us, so we too can help them to help us.