Over 370 Indian passports seized for breaching Yemen travel ban

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New Delhi: Union Minister of State for External Affairs, V. Muraleedharan, told the Lok Sabha on Friday that the government has seized a total of 372 passports of those who have travelled to Yemen over the past few years, violating a travel ban to the contry.

The minister’s response came while responding to questions raised by IUML MP E.T. Mohammed Basheer, who sought to know if the government has noticed that a large number of passports have been seized by the immigration department for travel to Yemen and other banned countries.

India has banned travel to Yemen since 2017. In 2016, Father Tom Uzhunnalil, a Kerala state priest, was kidnapped by terrorists from Aden, which triggered a travel ban.

Muraleedharan said that 372 passports have been seized from across the country, out of which 102 have been released.

However, seizure/release of passports is a continuous process and the data keeps changing.

“The seized passports are liable to be impounded or revoked under Section 10(3) of the Passports Act, 1967 and the holder of the passport is liable to be refused a passport under Section 6 of the said Act for a period of seven years from the date of revocation of such passport,” stated the minister’s reply.

Basheer had also sought details on the steps taken by the government to penalise and return the passports since most of the people working abroad belong to the poor/weaker sections of the society.

Muraleedharan also said that a provision to permit Indian nationals to visit Yemen for specific and essential reasons has also been made wherein prior approval of the Ministry of External Affairs is required to be obtained.

The maximum number of passports seized was from Kerala — 241. The least was seized from Chattisgarh, Odisha and Goa — one each.

Two passports were seized from Andhra Pradesh and Telengana.

Others states in the list are Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

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( With inputs from )

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