Thriving black market abroad for Indian passports

India does not have biometric system such as using fingerprinting and taking photograph of visitors at immigration counters in international airports.

Atlantic City: There is a growing
demand and market for everything Indian abroad and this
includes unfortunately illegal sale of unused but valid Indian
passports, Prabhu Dayal, Consul General of India in New
York said.

"The Government of India viewed the matter seriously
as it came to its notice that several Indians who had acquired
citizenship of other nations such as the US, continue to
retain their Indian passport, which is illegal, and even sold
it for a premium to enable the purchaser to travel to India,"
Dayal said while addressing a two-day annual convention of
Federation of Andhra Pradesh Medical Graduates in USA (APMG),
on Saturday.

India does not have biometric system such as using
fingerprinting and taking photograph of visitors at
immigration counters in international airports and this makes
it easy for the purchaser to enter India illegally using some
other`s passport.

Often, the international flight arrives at wee hours
and those manning the immigration counters swipe the passports
to check the names against those in black listed category or
wanted by law enforcement agencies.

There is no system to check whether the passport
belongs to the person standing in front of them if the photo
matches.

In some cases, it has been found that some
unscrupulous persons had even renewed their unused Indian
passports in the Indian missions while simultaneously holding
US passports and travelled back and forth using both the
passports alternatively.

US do not subject its citizens to biometric tests
while Indian passport holders return home without much hassle.

The Government of India has plugged all the loopholes
now.

The Ministry of External Affairs had made it mandatory
last year for Indians abroad who had acquired citizenship of
other countries to surrender their Indian passport, get it
cancelled and collect renunciation certificate from the
missions to become eligible for services offered such as
Indian visa, Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card or
People of Indian Origin (PIO) card and even attestation of
documents.

Dayal said there was a serious security breach last
year when the Indian intelligence agencies found out the role
of a stolen Indian passport in the killing of Hamas leader in
Dubai.

PTI