Passport heat on Giri and Gurung

The Telegraph

MONALISA CHAUDHURI

Calcutta, Aug. 7: Police have apparently begun the procedure to impound Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader Roshan Giri’s passport and are considering a similar action against Bimal Gurung, in a move that is being seen as the government’s efforts to pile pressure on the party.

Gurung and Giri, who are leading the statehood agitation, had procured their passports last year under the Tatkal scheme. Sources in the home department said Darjeeling police had sent an adverse report on Giri’s passport to the regional passport office in Calcutta.

The police, according to the sources, are considering an adverse report on Gurung’s passport too. “The process to impound the passport of Giri, Gurung’s trusted aide, has started. A decision on Gurung’s passport is expected to be taken in the near future,” a home department source said.

According to the Passports Act, 1967, a Tatkal passport is issued on an emergency basis without the police’s clearance. The police verification report, including checking of the receiver’s background and address by the local police, can be done later.

The police verification report of both Gurung and Giri are awaited. The adverse report on Giri’s passport mentions a host of criminal cases pending against him.

State intelligence branch officers said Gurung and Giri had cases of rioting, arson and damage of government property against them.

Sources in the external affairs ministry said the primary reason for impounding a passport was the mention of criminal cases in the police’s verification report.

“In case of an adverse report on a passport obtained under the Tatkal scheme, the holder is given the chance to provide an explanation to senior officials of the regional passport office. If it is found to be satisfactory, the passport is not impounded,” a foreign ministry official said.

Sources in the state home department said Giri recently deposed in the regional passport office that the state government had promised to withdraw all cases against him during the signing of the GTA treaty. “The passport office has resent Giri’s case to Darjeeling police for re-consideration. If the police send another adverse report, Giri’s passport could be impounded,” said a source.

According to rules, a person whose passport has been revoked by the regional passport office can appeal to the chief passport office under the external affairs ministry against the decision. A senior state government official said: “Impounding a passport may be a temporary issue but it is clearly an indication of how strongly the government is dealing with the statehood agitation and the people at its forefront. Otherwise, why would Darjeeling police withhold Gurung’s verification report for so long? The police are apparently waiting for a signal from their political bosses.”

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