Thousands of applicants make a beeline for ‘special drive’

Utter chaos prevailed at the Passport Office at Marripalem VUDA Colony here on Wednesday as thousands of fresh applicants came to attend the ‘walk in.’

The passport officials were caught unawares by the huge crowd and sought police help to prevent the situation from going out of control.

Police swung into action and restored order by noon but not before a few persons were injured in the melee and baton-wielding by the police.

Special drive

Lack of foresight on the part of passport officials defeated the very objective of organising the special drive to mitigate the sufferings of fresh passport applicants, who were unable to get online slots. A special drive was announced for the benefit of fresh applicants from the five districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, East and West Godavari, who could not secure online slots, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on November 7 and 8.

The passport officials expected not more than 2,000 applicants and the unprecedented crowd made them jittery.

Applicants started arriving from distant places such as Jangareddygudem and Palacole in West Godavari district from Tuesday night itself to avoid the prospect of losing the ‘golden opportunity’, as they failed to get online slots.

Many of the applicants, who came with their family members from faraway places, were put to hardship. The crowd waiting outside the main gate barged in as the gates opened around 9 a.m. Some women fell in the pushing and jostling and were injured in the process.

Additional Deputy Commissioners of Police Atchuta Rao (Administration) and V. Suresh Babu (Traffic) and Assistant Commissioner of Police (North) B. Prasada Rao and their team kept the surging crowd at bay. In all, 1,700 tokens were issued on Wednesday and the verification process continued till late in the evening.

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