Bribe, Bribe, Bribe…

I applied for my passport a few days ago. I was supposed to fill out a form and submit it at the passport office in Varanasi. I went to the office and presented all of my documents to the officer. I thought to look over the documents again before giving it to the officer and discovered that I had made some mistake filling up the form. I thought it would be a good idea to fill out a fresh form. I asked the officer there if he had a fresh form but he said that the office didn’t sell the form. It was crazy, no passport application for at the passport office.

He asked me why I wanted a fresh form and I explained my problem to him but he said that he knew how to solve my problem. He brought whitener and cleaned the mistake and asked me to over write there. I was happy that I did not have to go out and buy a new form but I did not understand why he helped me. I never expect a government employee to help people. I knew that there was something wrong going on. I filled out the form and gave it to the person present there but he said that let the officer come. I asked him if he was not a office employee and he said that the officer has hired him personally to help him.

I immediately understood that there was really something wrong going on. The officer came and stamped my paper and signed it. He was supposed to give me a receipt of the passport form but he did not give it to me, he gave it to that other guy. I asked the officer what should I do next and this officer told me to talk to the other guy. I asked him and he turned his face like a rotten mango and said something that I could not hear. I asked him again and again and he would tell something that I was unable to hear. I asked him to speak loudly and then he said please give something.

I did not understand what was he looking for so I asked him to be clear about what he wanted and then he said that he will have to send my passport application to the regional office in Lucknow and he needed stamp and postage charge. I asked him if government doesn’t pay for it and said ‘NO’. I am sure that it is the government’s part. I asked him how much the stamp and postage charges were and he said Rs. 200. I know that I can send a post to any Indian city from any Indian city for Rs. 10. So I told him that it was too much.

And then said that he will have to pay every officer whoever looks at my application and for this he needed Rs. 200. I bargained and gave him Rs. 100 and this shameless person grabbed this money from my hand like a hungry lion. He told me to not worry anymore. He promised that he will forward my letter to the other office by the evening time. It was really interesting to see how that creepy government officer has hired someone to ask for the bribes from the people. The officer did not want to do it on his own. It is very smart of him but very bad for India.

The next step in order to get my passport was to get a no objection certificate from the local police station. The passport office sends the documents to the SSP (Senior Superintendent of Police) office and they send the documents to the local police station. I went to my local police station to see if they had gotten my application from SSP office. I asked them and they told me to come back after two days. I met a person at the police station who had hit his something with his car about two years ago and police had taken his car. Today he had gotten the release order from the court to get his car back from the police.

I knew that the police would not give his car back without taking a bribe but I was wondering how they would ask for it because I was also present there. I thought they would be shy asking for a bribe in front of me but this shameless policeman completed his papers and passed it to the policeman sitting next to him. He said to the car owner, even very loudly, to give something to the next police man and take the car’s key. I was not surprised but couldn’t understand how shameless the our and corrupt our police is. He gave Rs. 500 to the policeman but he was not happy with it, he wanted more. As the first policeman heard it, he stopped his work and started talking to the car owner. He said that first of all you did not give anything to me and now you want to give only Rs. 500? It is not done like this. Finally they ended up with Rs. 700.

This first policeman told me that he hadn’t got my application yet and asked me to come the next day. I reached there the next day and this time he had my application form. He looked at all of my documents and then asked where was I born. I told him that I was born in Varanasi but then he asked my father village’s address and asked me to come back after ten days so that they could do an enquiry in my father’s village where I never lived. I asked him why did they want to enquire about me in a place where I never lived. And he said that sometimes people commit crime in their village also. It was crazy. I did not know why he was doing it and then I realized that maybe he was doing it to disturb me so that I would give him some bribe.

I told him that I wanted it as soon as possible and then he said that he knew some way to make the process fast and now I understood what this way was. I told him to use that way and then he immediately took me to the next room where the head of the police station was sitting. He interviewed me, and asked me several questions including who will pay for my trip to the US. Finally he attested my photo and I came out of that office with that creepy policeman. Now he took me to a corner and said that he also wanted something. I asked him how much and he said whatever I wish. I asked, “Rs.200”? and he said what can he do with Rs. 200.

And then he asked for Rs. 600. I had to give him that money because I knew that I will never ever get my passport if I had not made him happy. After this office I have to deal with LIU (Local Intelligence Unit), SSP office, the passport office in Benares and the passport office in Lucknow. I will have to bribe everyone and still maybe don’t get my passport on time. This whole experience made me very sad. I was wondering if there is any government work in India that could be get done without bribing government???

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