Between 2011 and 2022, a staggering number of over 70,000 Indians decided to relinquish their passports at regional passport offices (RPOs) across the country, shedding light on the growing trend of citizenship renunciation. The data, revealed in response to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by The Indian Express, pointed to eight states – Goa, Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, and Chandigarh – as the major contributors, accounting for more than 90 per cent of the surrendered documents.
A notable 40.45 per cent of the 70,000 Indians surrendered passports were recorded at the RPO in Goa, making it the leading state for citizenship renunciation. Following closely, Punjab, including Chandigarh, witnessed 9,557 passports (13.79 per cent) being surrendered, while Gujarat ranked third with 8,918 passports (12.87 per cent) surrendered at the RPOs in Ahmedabad and Surat. Maharashtra also featured on the list, with 6,545 passports (9.44 per cent) surrendered at RPOs in Nagpur, Pune, and Mumbai/Thane.
However, it’s crucial to note that the data provided under the RTI Act only covers passports surrendered at RPOs, omitting those relinquished at Indian embassies and High Commissions abroad. When considering the larger picture, the 70,000 passports surrendered at RPOs represent just a fraction of the Indian citizenship renounced during the same period. As per the information shared in Parliament by the Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs, V Muraleedharan, over 16.21 lakh Indians renounced their citizenship between 2011 and October 31 last year.
The increasing trend of passport surrendering saw a significant surge in 2012 and 2013 when the numbers rose sharply to 11,492 and 23,511, respectively, before settling in the 2,000-4,000 range over the subsequent nine years. On average, around 11,422 Indians renounced their Indian citizenship each month since 2011, while approximately 482 Indian passports were surrendered on a monthly average during this period at RPOs across India.
Goa’s consistent presence as the state with the highest number of surrendered passports, except for 2012 and 2013 when Gujarat topped the list, raised interest. The reason behind this anomaly became evident, as Portugal offers those born in Goa before 1961 the opportunity, along with two future generations, to register as Portuguese citizens. Owning a Portuguese passport grants visa-free access to several countries, including the UK and EU, as Portugal has been a member of the EU since 1986.
The RTI data provides a glimpse of the outflow of Indian citizens from the country and highlights the complexities surrounding dual citizenship and the decisions made by Indian citizens concerning their passports.
Note: This article has been written using inputs and data obtained by the Indian Express through an RTI application.
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