x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Indian mission hears troubles at open day

Embassy and consulate open their doors to citizens for help with a variety of legal issues.

Mohammed Kunhi was one of many Indians to turn up seeking help at the open day at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
Mohammed Kunhi was one of many Indians to turn up seeking help at the open day at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // Mohammed Kunhi approached the Indian Embassy yesterday to try to get his passport affairs in order.

He felt fortunate that the Indian mission opens its doors on the first Sunday of each month to citizens seeking help to solve problems.

Mr Kunhi, from Kerala, submitted his passport renewal in March but had some "adverse remarks" posted against its status.

The mission had already written to Kerala passport officials to clarify the status but it was still awaiting a reply.

When the matter came to the attention of MK Lokesh, the ambassador, he told officials to "immediately issue [Mr Kunhi] a one-year temporary extension so that he would not turn illegal in a foreign country".

Thirteen people turned up to seek assistance for their various consular-related grievances at yesterday's open day.

According to the embassy, there are currently about 10 passport-related cases. In some cases, people get "tatkal", or urgent, passports from India and go overseas.

When local police do not find the citizen for passport clearance at the specified address, they put "adverse remarks", which is shown online while checking a passport's status. Passports then cannot be issued

They are generally in the case of people who hold dual citizenship, have criminal cases pending or local police complaints.

With the extension, Mr Kunhi can go to India to get clearance from local police. Then he can formally renew his passport for 10 years, the standard validity in India.

Mr Kunhi has lived in the UAE for 25 years with no issues with the police in India or in the Emirates, so he was surprised by the action.

"I don't have any case against me and I don't carry dual citizenship," he said.

Mr Lokesh asked consular staff to speedily clarify the problem with Indian authorities.

"In such 'adverse entry' cases, first we have to get approval from India before we give any passport services," he said.

Another person sought embassy help to get Dh175,000 from someone who took advantage of him three years ago. The alleged culprit is now in India and refusing to pay.

The mission received documents from the accuser and will forward them to the Ministry of External Affairs in India to look into the matter. Afterwards, the ministry will approach the Kerala government so local authorities may take legal action against the person in India.

At the consulate in Dubai, 11 cases related to labour, passport, education and consular issues were reported, an official said.

"All complaints were discussed and referred to the heads of the respective departments to look into them. The consulate is following up the cases. About 20 people attended the open day," he added.

At the last event, an Emirati approached the consulate regarding a visa problem on behalf of his Indian wife. The mission received documents from him and helped him pursue the matter through proper channels.