Mar 11, 2008

Indian Consulate in Chicago

Some officials of the Indian consulate in Chicago have been illegally issuing passports to Indian nationals who have sought political asylum in the US in exchange for hefty bribes, according to a complaint made to the Indian external affairs ministry by an Indian American community leader.

Amrit Patel, a businessman and president of the India Cultural Society in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has alleged that the passport racket was handled through Rajubhaiya, a New York based middleman. Almost all of the beneficiaries are from the Punjabi American community, all of whom paid $3,000-3,500 each to have supporting documents manufactured and passports issued.

According to Patel's complaint, the applicant would contact Rajubhaiya with $200 and two photographs. Rajubhaiya would manufacture the supporting documents and set up an appointment with Indian consulate officials in Chicago. After the consulate-approved issue of the passport, the applicant had to hand over the remaining money to Rajubhaiya.

Patel has sent copies of the complaint to the Indian embassy in Washington DC. A senior diplomat at the Chicago consulate, who requested anonymity, confirmed the existence of the racket to IANS.

"After Patel's complaint, the Indian embassy sent an officer to inquire into the matter, but nothing seems to have come out of it," he said.

"Milwaukee has a large Punjabi American community. As far as I know, there have been at least 40 people from Milwaukee itself who have had such passports made. When the embassy inquiry officer came here, I had him meet with at least five people who had paid bribes to get their passports," said Patel.

Patel has named six people who allegedly paid bribes to have their passports issued. He has also attached copies of their green cards and US travel documents with his complaint.

Some of the applicants are residents of New York and California - states over which the Chicago consulate does not have any jurisdiction. In one of the letters from the American Embassy in New Delhi addressed to the US immigration inspector at the port of entry, the address of the asylum seeker is given as New York. Another letter from the US Immigration and Naturalization Service Asylum Office in San Francisco is addressed to another asylum seeker in Redwood City, California.

The Chicago consulate serves the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Apart from the payment of bribes, there is also the question of whether a political asylum seeker is even eligible for an Indian passport.

"If an Indian national claims political asylum on grounds of persecution by the Indian government, he loses his claim to an Indian passport," said the diplomat.

But applicants could apparently count on Rajubhaiya to resolve this issue.

"Rajubhaiya would make a fake green card (changing the category from one based on political asylum to a different one) so that the applicant is eligible for an Indian passport," said Patel.

There is also the nagging question about how the issue of fraudulent Indian passports could affect national security.

"These people (who got the passports) appear to be opportunists. But it could easily have been someone with terrorist intentions," said the diplomat. "A lot of people have minted money in this racket. Sadly, not one of them paused to ponder on how this would reflect on India's image abroad."

Attributed to: Ashok Easwaran, Indo-Asian News Service, Chicago, March 11, 2008.


....R.A.J.A.... said...

Nothing surprising. From the online forms to the physical office space for Indian passport service, everything is in a mess

Anonymous said...

The employees at the Indian consulate in Chicago do not know the right hand from the left hand. I was assaulted by one of the employees and the Chicago police did absolutely nothing! No case number, they wouldn't let me press charges, they wouldn't give me the employees names. I wonder if they are on the payroll...

A Frustrated Indian said...

I agree.. this consulate office treats the whole Indian population in US as third class citizens. I have been trying to reach someone/anyone in that office to talk about my OCI application (which was submitted over two months ago and has not been acknowledged yet) but the answering system is lousy, the voicemail box is always full, my several e-mails have not been responded to. They took my money and now just seating on their behinds. I think, considering the huge mess that this office is in, they have just lost my paperwork.

Anonymous said...

The lack of customer service is not just limited to the Chicago consulate. Even the Washington D.C. consulate is notorious. I have had so many of my friends being harrassed by the employees at the consular services window and have really funny rules.

Just to point a few:
- "they" messed up my friend's "name" in the passport renewal and when my friend asked for a correction they said it "doesn't matter" and if they want the name corrected, they have to to re-file along with fees to fix the issue??? how retarded is that... and how can they say the "name" doesn't matter on a passport.. i can understand any other detail.. but name????
- they accept applications for renewals by a postal application from Indians who stay outside of DC metro area, but for people who stay close by (and they do NOT define what close by means on the website), but for my colleague who lives in the metro area, he was asked to take an appointment, could not just drop it in... and I had just dropped in mine just a few months ago without an appointment.. why?? just random behavior.. if they change such rules, they should just list it on thier website, so people can read and follow accordingly... and why different rules for different people based on thier whims and fancies?
- and they always speak rudely and sarcastically if you have any special questions/requests and treat you like you'r at thier mercy... and which of course we kind of are, coz we really cannot complain, as we have to get our docuemnts "approved" by them, so I guess we just have to bear with all this.
It's just something leaves a sour taste whenever we have to interact with the Embassy.

kargil Jay said...

The assaulted Indian,
You have to understand one simple law:
No police officer / state sub court can take action against any janitor working in any consulate. To take any action, one should be either commondo in US army or Federal high level official.

All Indian consulate employees have too many traffic tickets pending and they don't even pay it, as legally nothing can be done.

You also would have done too many frauds in your job, education, would have licked ass of your boss to come up, you must have done unethical things to come up. You are an Indian after all. Be proud and understand that you have to lick some time or other like this.

Anonymous said...

Indian Embassy has always been a very bitter experience

Anonymous said...

I applied for Visa application for my daughter to visit India. I applied on line. They charged my credit cards four times for one time charge. No body is answering telephones. no body knows, no body is in authoity to correct the mess. This is the hired visa agency apparently managed by Indians. Air India and Indian consulates are lousiest services. They are like that, because we let it happen like that.

Anonymous said...

It could be also a racket to collect all the money for sending the passport, but they invite you to pick it up from distances of 2 to 3 hundred miles, so that they can get that 21-22-23 dollars depending on the number of visa applied. My story is too long, but suffices to say that "British Raj in Indian authority will not go away", so have mercy on us, who need services from Chicago consulate.