Ranchi-based human rights activist Gladson Dungdung's passport was impounded by the Regional Passport Office (RPO) on Wednesday, a step he alleged was taken to harass him for speaking up against government officials in several instances. District police and special branch senior police officials denied any knowledge of the incident.

“I had refused to give a bribe to the officer-in-charge at Sadar thana when he had demanded a bribe of Rs 500 when I had applied for and got my passport in 2010. I had refused to bribe a Crime Investigation Department official too soon after that. Either the officials concerned noted an adverse remark against me at the time, or this has been done to harass me because of my activism,” said Mr Dungdung general secretary Jharkhand Human Rights Movement and author most recently of 'Whose Country Is It Anyway: Untold Stories of the Indigenous Peoples of India'.

Mr Dungdung said that he had first received a notice from the Regional Passport Office while he was on a two-week trip to Germany and Thailand to speak at conferences organized by INGOs Adivasi Koordination and Asia Indigenous People's Pact last October. Mr Dungdung who has written extensively about the effects of counter insurgency operations on adivasi villagers and was a member of the assessment and Monitoring authority under the Planning commission from 2011 to 2013 said he had used his passport issues in 2010 to travel outside the country for the first time in 2013. The letter from the RPO dated 4 October 2013 asked Mr Dungdung to “provide a suitable explanation and submit a fresh application” for a passport since there was an “adverse police verification report” corresponding to his application dated 5 May 2010.

“I did not respond till I received a second letter on 26 December. When I visited the RPO today, they impounded my passport. When I asked why this was being done, they asked if I were engaged in any anti-national activity. They asked me to fill two forms and I did that,” he recounted.

Additional Director General of Police (Special Branch) Rezi Dungdung and Ranchi Senior Superintendent of Police BS Tuti said they were not aware of the matter. “I am not aware of any such order from my office. If an adverse report or case shows up in our files, then such a notice may be sent,” said Ranchi SSP Mr Tuti.