An internal probe by the Department of Immigration and Passport (DIP) has detected that at least 170 official passports have been issued without following any of the numerous set procedures. This has been done in collusion with a section of travel agents, brokers, human traffickers and a section of DIP officials. All this is of course not exactly news. What is news is why proactive measures were not taken to stop the syndicate, that apparently exists within the department, in its tracks; especially as we know that such a racket took place in the first quarter of the year, and by DIP's own estimates, some 2,000 official passports were forged.
We would like to enquire why the means of verification, like submission of the application in person and cross checking of no-objection certificates (NOC) have been wilfully bypassed. It is unfathomable that brokers can submit applications on behalf of applicants and NOC can be forged at will without raising an eyebrow.
Issuing passports on fake papers has grave security implications and, that cattle traders, shop keepers, office clerks and cleaners were recipient of official passports on forged documents is an insult to the system. Despite repeated detection of corrupt officials involved in the scam, we find that no disciplinary action has been taken against these individuals. Verification measures to discourage such illicit activity have to be rethought when it comes to the issuance of official passports. We demand severe punishment for fraudsters no matter who they may be.