Dec 10, 2002
A lucrative racket
enables bogus applicants to assume identities of deceased Goans
to apply for Portuguese citizenship - Devika Sequeira
Five centuries ago, Vasco Da Gama
opened up the sea route to India
with historic repercussions in the colonisation of Goa, Daman and Diu.
Five hundred and four years on, a Portuguese citizenship facility available
to Goans has given unscrupulous agents and touts a
lucrative means to establish an illegal migration route to Portugal, and
the economic opportunities of the European Union.
A huge international racket in granting Portuguese nationality under a
clause meant only for persons from Goa, Daman and Diu (which were former Portuguese colonies) has
edged out genuine applicants from Goa, and is
being grossly misused even by extremists, says former union minister for
external affairs and Congress MP Eduardo Faleiro.
Terrorist Masood Azad (who
had been released by the Government of India during the Kandahar
hijacking) and Abu Salem were both found with Portuguese passports.
This in itself revealed the extent to which the system in Lisbon's Conservatorio
dos Registos Centrais
(the Central Registrar's office), responsible for processing applications,
had been compromised, the MP points out.
Most genuine applications made through the Portuguese Consulate General in
Panjim have been mired in Lisbon's bureaucratic red-tape for years
(one applicant said she has been waiting nine years). But a payment of $5,000
can fetch one a Portuguese passport (under the Goa
clause) within three months in Lisbon,
Mr Faleiro's investigations
have established. The sub-system operates through agents and touts working in
collusion with the registrar's office.
What the Rajya Sabha
MP finds particularly galling, is that the consulate in Goa, established during his tenure as external affairs
minister to facilitate procedures for the people of Goa,
Daman and Diu has
been rendered totally ineffectual and has shut down the channel for new
Sources in the consulate confirmed that the decision was taken by the new
Consul-General Miguel Calheiros Velozo.
"He was so shocked by the extent of the racket, that he asked us to
discontinue accepting applications," they said. 'Documentation
agents' (those who can facilitate the recovery of crucial birth and residency
documents from a Kafkaesque registrar's office here, and have them attested),
once identified only by word of mouth, are openly advertising their services
Consular staff say though they know many applicants are fake, they have to
just turn a blind eye to the racket. "We have seen Punjabis and even
Bangladeshis and Pakistanis applying under assumed Goan
identities, but can do nothing about it because we are no more than a
sorting office to reroute applications to Lisbon." The consulate has handled
3,000 applications from the time it was established here in 1994. Yet 15,000
applications (received directly in Lisbon)
are believed to be pending with the state's home department for the
attestation of documents. Less than half of these would be genuine, sources
say. Some agents are said to have resurrected the identities of dead Goans, recovered their birth certificates from the
archives, and falsified records.
"The entire process is based on Indian documentation that is easily
falsified, making it all the easier for unscrupulous people to manipulate
the system," consulate sources say. Since
no co-operation agreement exists between India
in the matter, bringing the culprits to book becomes all the more difficult.
When authorities in Diu
wanted to book agents involved in falsifying documents there, the Portuguese
authorities refused to part with the documents in their possession, sources
nationality law of 1975, those born in Goa, Daman
and Diu before 1961 (when Goa was liberated) and their descendants upto a third generation are still entitled to Portuguese
citizenship. A similar -- but time-bound -- option had been offered to
former Portuguese colonies of Mozambique
Said to be under pressure from the European Union to wind up the option for Goa, Daman and Diu after the
tide of traffic from here to Europe in recent times, Portugal's
right-wing government would be only too happy to oblige, many here believe.
"If they did that, they would have to wind up their consulate in Goa, and this would be seen as an unfriendly act toward India,"
says Mr Faleiro. The MP
counters criticism that those seeking to migrate are anti-national. "It
is obvious that people from here who seek citizenship elsewhere do so purely
for economic reasons. But they remain wedded to their country of
origin," he says.
Consulate sources say the problem of bogus applicants could be easily weeded
out of the system, if Portugal's
external affairs ministry set its mind to it. It shut down the Mumbai
consular office and expelled staff involved in the passports racket from the Delhi embassy some
years ago. But it has failed to clamp down on the racket in its own backyard
Hopes are now being pinned on the new consul-general here to both clean up
the system, and rejuvenate a laidback consulate which has achieved close to
zero in terms of trade or culture in this part of India.
[The suspected terrorists Masood Azad
& Abu Salem did NOT have Portuguese passports when they were arrested in Lisbon. Their
"passports" were FORGED!
Red tape exists within civil services everywhere in the world, Portugal is
no exception. The information TGF has is that the extra delay in processing
applications from Goa
is partly related to the fact that many non-Goans
have obtained fake
birth certificates showing them as Goans. Now Lisbon displays a high degree of distrust
towards certificates from India
- even though these certificates have been certified by the Portuguese
Consulate in Goa.
It is important to note that this degree of red tape is not apparent during
the processing of applications for Portuguese nationality from children of Goans born outside India.
Having said that, stories about the inappropriate goings on,
in the Portuguese Consulate in Goa, are
very disconcerting indeed. ]
December 21, 2002
Why these constant reports?
Is there a hidden motive?
reports of Eduardo Faleiro's declaration on
"Passport Racket" at the Conservatoria in
Lisbon "trazem agua no bico", as the Portuguese saying goes and the
meaning of which is "tem uma intencao reservada".
Literally it can be translated as " have
a hidden motive behind it".
The whole statement about "rackets at the Conservatoria"
falls to the ground because the Conservatoria does
not issue passports. The Conservatoria is the
Government office for registration of Births and Deaths and other co-relative
acts such as marriage, divorce, etc.
It is widely known that the Portuguese passports held by the terrorists are
either fake or are some of those that were stolen from the Portuguese
Consulates in Islamabad, Paris,
etc. and even from the "Governo Civil" of
some of the districts of Portugal.
Recently, Portuguese authorities dismantled an "office" where
false passports were being issued for USD 5,000.00 and even false Identity
Cards were being issued. The culprits were persons of African and Indian
Mr. Faleiro, who I presume has a birth registration in
Portugal because he was born here, should know better than Devika Sequeira that before one
can apply for a passport (at the "Governos Civis" and not - I repeat - not at the "Conservatoria") one has to have an Identity Card
(with photo and finger print), and to obtain an Identity Card one has to
present a birth certificate, and the latter is issued by the various "Conservatorias do Registo
Civil", depending on where one is registered. The "Conservatoria dos Registos Centrais" is only for those born outside Portugal.
Another important point is that, when an individual over 18 years old applies
for Identity Card for the first time, this means that prior to this he had a
different nationality and therefore he has to present, besides Birth
Certificate, his foreign passport and some other old Identification Document.
Please stop to think that all the delays
in the processing of "Transcricao
de Nascimento" and "Atribuicao
de Nacionalidade" are due to all the forgeries and fake documentation
coming from Goa, Daman, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli. I think Mr. Faleiro should see to it that due care and respect is
given to the Registration Books at the various Registrar's offices in Goa and (if possible for him) also of the other
aforementioned territories where already records of many people are missing.
It is precisely because of the detection of various forgeries that the "Conservatoria dos Registos Centrais", once
it receives the documentation (directly in some cases and through the appropriate Consulate in
others), invariably requests the Consulate
in Goa to verify and certify the authenticity of
the birth and marriage certificates; and, for that purpose, the
Consulate approaches the respective Registrar's or Sub-registrar's office in
such a way that no forgery is possible.
Hence the delay in processing the documentation till its finalisation, which can take even a few years.
de Noronha , Lisboa-Portugal
Dec 11. 02
Who knows better - Livia or the Portuguese Consulate in Goa?
Jorge/Livia (whichever one it is) seems to find it hard to
come to terms with the fact that a Portuguese govt
department can be so corrupt. The information about the Portuguese
registrar's office comes not only from Eduardo Faleiro,
but is corroborated also by the staff of the Consulate-General here, who have
seen genuine passport applications stalled for over 8 years, while others,
sent directly through Lisbon, are processed in a matter of a few months.
But perhaps you know better than them how the racket operates.
Devika Sequeira, Panjim
Dec 12. 02
Whichever one it is ?!
re: 'Jorge/Livia (whichever one it is)', it is a
pity that journalist Devika Sequeira
failed to notice the signature at the end of the post of December 11. The
post was clearly signed "Livia".
Now the present post goes to you all from Jorge.
Neither Jorge nor Livia finds it hard "to come
to terms with the fact that a Portuguese govt
department can be so corrupt", as unfortunately nowadays corruption is
prone to occur in the - apparently at least - most august places, including
the sanctimonious corridors of the Vatican.
But the Portuguese law circles have been making efforts to curb any and
every instance of corruption that is detected or sensed. For instance, it
is known that a couple of years ago at least one officer of the "Conservatoria dos Registos Centrais" was placed on compulsory retirement and
precluded from entering the premises of that department when he was found to
be engaged in less appropriate dealings.
We think that the names of those who act corruptly should be publicly
denounced - with proof, of course. And the names of the accusers should also be made
if the name(s) of "the staff of the Consulate-General" in Goa "who have seen genuine passport applications
stalled for over 8 years, while others, sent directly through Lisbon, are
processed in a matter of a few months" can be made known, and if
those cases which are deemed to have been unduly hanging for over 8 years
and at least one instance of a case that, having been submitted directly to
Lisbon, was processed in a matter of few months are brought to our notice, we
promise that the matter will be taken by us to the adequate official agencies
(including the Law Ministry and the Public Ombudsman) for complete
clearance and for the bringing-to-book of those who were or are at fault in
all this "racket".
Because we think that a person who makes such grave assertions as "have
seen passport applications (unduly) stalled for over 8 years, while others,
sent directly through Lisbon, are processed in a matter of a few months"
should be prepared to come forward and put his/her signature below such a
statement, and not make the assertion and remain in anonymity.
One more thing: As regards "sent directly through Lisbon",
the question arises: to whom were those applications sent "through"
Lisbon? Or is
it that instead of "sent directly through Lisbon"
the journalist actually wanted to say "submitted directly to Lisbon"? It may be
argued that it is simply a matter of linguistics, but it is not: "sent
through Lisbon" is not the same as
"submitted to Lisbon".
It is ridiculous to speak of a delay of 8 or whatever number of years in
processing "passport applications". Please note that:
(1) "Conservatoria dos Registos
Centrais" is the "Central Registrar's
Office" where births, deaths, marriages,
divorces of Portuguese nationals born, dead, etc. out of Portugal (case of Goa, for example) are registered. Passports are not
issued at this office.
(2) "Servicos de Identificacao
Civil" (usually called "Arquivo de Identificacao Civil") is the department which issues
identity cards. There are "Servicos de Identificacao Civil" in every district of this
country and in some other important cities. A birth certificate (and a
marriage certificate, if the applicant is married) is a "sine qua
non" requirement for applying for an identity card.
(3) "Governo Civil" is the entity
which issues passports. There are 18 districts in continental Portugal, 3 in the Autonomous Region of the Azores and 1 in the Autonomous Region of Madeira, and
any of the Civil Governments of these districts is entitled to issue
Every citizen must have an identity card. Holding of a passport is not
obligatory; but no one can obtain a passport without having an identity card.
Jorge de Abreu de Noronha , Lisboa-Portugal
Dec 13. 02
The fraud occurs in India !
Masoo Azad ... and Abu
Salem were both found with Portuguese passports."
It is true that
those individuals "were both found with Portuguese passports", but the journalists (intentionally?) failed to state that those passports
were fake ones. Besides, Salem
was also in possession of Indian and Pakistani passports? Genuine or fake
passports? Your guess is as good as mine.
if the Conservatoria dos Registos Centrais is not
responsible for processing passport applications, how can it be deemed to be
compromised in the "passport racket"?
I refrain from developing on the subject of the so-called 'documentation
agents' who, as the article "Identity Crisis" reveals, "are
openly advertising their services". I shall only recommend to those who
might feel tempted to avail themselves of those "services": Beware!
When the consular staff say "We have seen Punjabis and even Bangladeshis
and Pakistanis applying under assumed Goan
identities, but can do nothing about it because we are no more than a sorting
office to reroute applications to Lisbon", this is not entirely true,
and those staff surely know it.
If it is true that in the first instance they (the consular staff) act
as a mere "sorting office to reroute applications to Lisbon",
at a later stage they do have a crucial mission, when they are
requested by Lisbon's
Conservatoria to verify and certify the
authenticity of the certificates submitted.
So, initially the Goa registrar's and
sub-registrar's offices are at fault for issuing those (fake) birth certificates of
"assumed Goan identities" to the
Punjabis, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis; but the consular staff can surely
"smash" those certificates when fulfilling their mission of
verifying and certifying their authenticity.
If they Portuguese Consular staff in Goa pass on
these fake certificates as authentic, non-authentic certificates, on what
ground can the Conservatoria of Lisbon refuse to process them?
As regards "a laidback consulate which has achieved close to zero in
terms of trade or culture in this part of India", all I will say is
that the journalist is not doing justice to the present consul-general Miguel
immediate predecessor Ms. Vera Fernandes who,
throughout her presence in Goa, elicited nothing
but praise from the people and the media. Now that she is no longer there,
she is accused of having "achieved close to zero in terms of trade and
culture" and all hopes are pinned on her successor?
Jorge de Abreu de Noronha , Lisboa-Portugal
Dec 14. 02
Wonder Why Devika Sequeira called her
article "Identity Crisis"
I wonder why Devika Sequeira called her
article "Identity Crisis". Does she wish to convey the idea that
those Goans who seek Portuguese citizenship are
facing an identity crisis? If so, what about the thousands of Indians (Goans and otherwise) who reside in the USA and have
taken American citizenship? Are they also in
crisis and/or are they in some way traitors to India?
Jorge de Abreu de Noronha , Lisboa-Portugal
Dec 15. 02
I never respond because Goans carry on quibbling, no matter what!
It has been my policy in general to never respond, because
quibbling Goans will carry on quibbling, no matter
what. But I am making an exception once again, because there are points that
must be countered.
I'm sorry, Jorge, to shatter your illusions about the quality and competence
of your consul generals (I assume you are Portuguese from your fierce and
blinding patriotism). It might dishearten you to learn that one of the
former consuls was known to fudge expenses on travel and entertainment so
he/she could claim higher returns from your government. Another had run up an
enormous tab at a five star resort here entertaining his jet-setting friends.
The hotelier (a repository of the most entertaining and useful information to
us journalists) had some very anxious months till your government agreed to
clear the backlog. The same career diplomat
was later banished to Bosnia
at the height of the ethnic conflict there. One can sympathize with the
relieved staff in your consulate here who've set
such high hopes on the present consul-general, said to be the best candidate
If your government has achieved anything by way of cultural/economic exchange
(one is not referring to Fundacao Oriente) with India through the efforts of
previous consuls here, we'd be glad to hear of it.
One last and final point: why journalists don't, and should not, reveal
their sources. It is an accepted norm in democratic countries that
journalists protect their sources in the larger interest of bringing to light
the facts. Which is why most democratic countries do not
make it mandatory for the media to make public their source of information
even in the court. Take away this practice and perhaps 80 per cent of
the better stories would never see the light of day.
Let me remind you of the Nixon case. Would the corruption have ever
been exposed had it not been for Deep Throat?
"Where is the proof?" is an argument we often hear from politicians
on the defensive. It is not for journalists to prove the corruption in
governments. It is for governments to clean up their acts at the slightest hint
of a stink.
Dec 16, 02
It is cowardly to make grave
accusations & hide behind anonimity!
I am Portuguese - or
rather a genuine Goan, who loves deeply the land of
his birth and who never had any other nationality than Portuguese. Never in
my life have I spoken or written "blindly" or "fiercely"
either pro or against anybody or anything, but
always stated my points of view with conviction.
re "It might dishearten you to learn
that one of the former consuls was known to fudge expenses on travel and
entertainment so he/she could claim higher returns from your government" I know who you are referring
to and I am by no means disheartened and, as you yourself have pointed out,
the latter of the two consuls was served a "banishment" notice,
though it might HAVE rightly argued whether it was an adequate punishment or
if he deserved a tougher one.
But you have said not a word about the present consul's immediate predecessor
Vera Fernandes. Do you think she did not do anything
in favour of improving the cultural and other
relations between our two countries?
last and final point: why journalists don't, and should not, reveal their
Did I say that journalists should reveal their sources? What I said is that "the names of those
who act corruptly should be publicly denounced - with proofs, of course"
(I didn't say by whom) and that "a person who makes such grave
assertions ... should be prepared to come forward and put his/her signature
below such a statement, and not make the assertion and remain in anonymity".
It is indeed cowardly for a person to make grave accusations
against another person or against an institution (like the "Conservatoria") and hide behind anonymity.
So, let those members of the staff of the Portuguese Consulate-General in Goa who produced those
accusations come boldly forward.
For my part, I
will send prints of all this e-correspondence to the Public Ombudsman "Provedor de Justicia") of
Portugal, with copies to the Ministers of Law and of Foreign Affairs, so that they may judge for
themselves whether they want to institute inquiries both at the Consulate and
the "Conservatoria" to find out what
truth there is in all those allegations.
Jorge de Abreu de Noronha , Lisboa-Portugal
Dec 17, 02
2003 (courtesy Press Trust of India)
CBI probe into
visa racket in Indian High Commission in UK
New Delhi: The government has ordered
a CBI probe into an illegal visa racket allegedly involving some officials
posted in the Indian High Commission in Britain, sources in the
investigating agency said on Sunday night.
The CBI probe followed a request from the Ministry of External Affairs in the
wake of certain allegations leveled by Scotland Yard that some officials
posted in Indian missions in Britain were involved in forging travel
A team of Scotland Yard had visited the CBI headquarter here recently seeking
its help in the probe as Britain's Immigration Department has registered a
case in this connection, the sources said.
This is the second case of allegations leveled against officials posted in
Indian missions abroad. Earlier, two officials posted in the mission in Trinidad and Tobago
were booked by CBI for stealing the passports meant for emergency purposes.
It appears that the stigma of Corruption in India will
hurt most genuine Goan applicants for Portuguese
Nationality. Over 10,000 allegedly Goan
applications are said to be stuck in the pipeline. The "system" has
just been overwhelmed by the fake applications. To cap it all, reports
suggest that there are a few gold diggers working for the Portuguese
Consulate in Goa.
If anything, Devika Sequeira's article (despite the errors
which she has yet to correct) serves as an eye-opener, NOT only
to the fraudulent manner in which Punjabis and Biharis
have obtained Portuguese Nationality, but also to the fact that Indian
certificates are subject to very serious suspicion in many parts of the
Having said that, it is important for Goans
to understand that obtaining a Portuguese passport is NOT an automatic
guarantee to a good job and employment in the Europe
Community. Goans MUST equip themselves with a first
class education, a first class work ethic, be prepared to work long and hard,
and must be good enough to compete with the best in Europe. Above all, Goans MUST learn to articulate well in spoken and written
English. If they are unable to do this, they should seriously consider
staying put in Goa.
The fruits of labour in the West are great, so is
TGF understands that NOT every Goan
who applies to reaffirm Portuguese nationality
in 2003, is a Goan in need of a job. A
significant number of recent applicants are highly qualified and affluent Goans who see Portugal
as a modern and all encompassing democracy with a classy culture - very much like Goa was in the late 1950s and until about
1963. Furthermore, these affluent and highly educated Goans absolutely and unambiguously wish to disassociate
with the narrow minded bigotry and nasty fundamentalism of the Rt. Wing
government which has taken control of India
and is set to maintain a stranglehold in Goa for many years to come. These Goans are unlikely to settle in Portugal or even seek employment in Portugal.
They are just doing what their heart tells them is the right thing to do i.e.
say Good Bye to Saffron extremism!
Interesting isn't it, the Goa
freedom fighters Jose Inacio
Loyola, Pundalik Gaitonde
& Purshottam Quenim saw the writing on the wall way back in 1963
and left Goa to settle in , of all the places .....Portugal
and the UK
Dec 24, 03
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