It turned out to be double trouble for passport applicants, who planned to make the most of the ‘unique opportunity’, provided by the Passport officials, through a special drive on Wednesday.

The passport officials announced a special drive to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday for fresh applicants. The objective was to help students and others, who require passports urgently, but were not getting online slots.

The enthusiasm of the passport officials in providing a way out for fresh applicants, who were unable to get online slots for months, is understandable. A little planning and foresight would have saved applicants from the harrowing experience. It may be recalled that a similar scene was witnessed at the passport mela held at the Passport Office, which was then located at Railway New Colony, a few years ago.

Applicants from far away places started arriving on Tuesday night itself. Some of the applicants, who had relatives in the city, put up for the night there and arrived in the early hours to ensure that they were ahead in the queue while others stayed outside the office all through the night.

The desperation of the applicants is also an indication of the failure of the online system for slot booking. The lack of barricading outside the office building came in for criticism. There was a demand for opening of Passport Seva Kendras (PSK s) at Bhimavaram and Kakinada for the convenience of applicants.

P. Rajani Kumari of Bhimavaram said a girl sustained head injury after she was hit by a police baton earlier in the morning. The police alleged that the passport officials had not given prior intimation to them while the latter claimed that they had orally told them two days ago.

V. Gouri of Vizianagaram said many women fell to the ground during the pushing and jostling at the gate and blamed the authorities for the poor management.

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