Yes, I did. But I had no other resort?
Here’s what happened.
Never had I thought that I would go to a foreign location, that too to work. So why waste time and money in getting a passport.
So when this job offer came and surprisingly I got selected, I suddenly realized that I don’t have the very basic requirement for taking up the job – a passport.
Go for a tatkal or instant passport – the agency that had hired me suggested.
With the help of a Passport consultant and spending over Rs.7000, I finally completed all formalities.I also got the passport in around a week.
But the passport had been provided subject to the local CID’s approval – that all is well with me, that I live in the address mentioned on the passport.
The day the CID officer paid a visit, I wasn’t at home. Send him to the police station at 9 in the morning tomorrow – he left instructions for me.
The next day I went to the police station – it was my first time – and although I had just come there to meet a policeman, I was very scared.
He came at 10.30, an hour and a half past the time he had called me.
I went inside. He asked me to sit down. Then while flipping through some files, he asked me what papers I have for residence and identity.
I presented my Election ID card and Pancard. While he quickly went through the Pancard, he got stuck on the Election card. Then for the first time looking up at my face, he asks if I have a driving license.
Yes, it normally is, but this says you were not staying at this address for more than one year, which is the requirement, he says, still looking at the card.
Although I had been living in the current address for more than 4 years, I had got the change done on the Election card recently.
He said that the passbook of a nationalized bank will work for me. I have an account with Bank of India. However, the address on the passbook was also outdated. Once I had tried to get it changed. But then because of the various formalities, and the requirement that such changes can be affected only on a weekday, meant that the change never happened.
Since it was a Saturday and the bank functioned only up to 2 o’clock, I rushed. The manager wasn’t ready to sign. But when I told him about my urgency, he relented. But he dated the signature as the current date only. So basically of no use to me in the current circumstances.
I went back to the police station, not sure what happens to my case now.
Thankfully the CID officer was still in his office.
So you got the signature, he asks.
He stays silent when I say no. Then after a full 5 minutes he raises his head from the files he had been looking at all this while and says, so what are you planning to do now?
I have to get the passport and you are my only ‘sahara’ (resort) Sir; I start pleading.
That I understand. But you have to understand I will not be able to help you.
While I have heard bribing works, I was scared to suggest the B word on my own. What if the policeman is honest and gets angry at my suggestion.
But the officer was restrained only up to the time there were people in the office. As soon as they left, he put forward his demand – Rs 3000.
But Rs. 3000 was a lot; particularly when I was without a job for the last 2 months. I had left my job in Pune to undertake the passport and other formalities in Delhi.
I begged. I pleaded. I negotiated. Nothing worked.
Disappointed I came home.
In the meanwhile the HR from the Dubai company kept on warning me that the offer will be taken back if I delay the passport any further.
I had almost lost hope. Then suddenly I realized that one of my LIC policy lists my current address in Delhi. This was a proof of residence.
The very next day I went to the CID officer again. When I presented the LIC policy as my address proof, his face dropped. He would have been planning to get at least Rs. 2000 from me. I gave him Rs. 300 though.
This was my first encounter with corruption. I will never forget a statement of the CID officer – You are going to earn in Dirhams in Dubai. At least we should get something out of it.