Large Turnout at PCS Chicago’s Indian Passport Surrender Certificate Camp
More than 400 surrender certificates were issued
Chicago (Palatine), IL:, March 17, 2011
Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago (PCS) in conjunction with the Sikh Religious Society of Chicago Palatine organized an Indian passport surrender certificate camp on Sunday March 13, 2011, at SRS Palatine Gurudwara, 1280 Winnetka St., Palatine, IL 60067, from 10 AM to 4 PM.
Ten officials from the consulate of India Chicago office led by Honorable Consul Vishvas Sapkal and many PCS & SRS volunteers joined hands to manage the applicant crowd logistics, and processing of the documents to issue the surrender certificates right there and then. The services were free and open to all.
More than 400 surrender certificates were issued. Some applicants had to go back due to incomplete documents. More than 500 people with families started lining up early and the Gurudwara was crowded with anxious applicants. For some of them it was their first time to a Gurudwara (a Sikh place of worship) where one has to remove their shoes and cover their head and no tobacco products are allowed on their person.
“We were overwhelmed but deeply pleased with such a tremendous response from the Indian American community at-large, and we are so glad that PCS has been of service to them. It was open to all and everyone is always welcome in a Gurudwara no matter who he or she is,” said Dr. Amarjit Singh PCS Chairperson for 2011.
“The PCS volunteers did a great job managing the crowd and keeping order. With appropriate instructions in advance from PCS, I was able to get my certificate with no hassle. This saved me a day off from work and expense of going to down town and paying for parking to get all this done,” said Kasi Paturi of Hoffman Estates, his first time to Gurudwara. Many other first timers echoed a similar sentiment of generous hospitality provided by Palatine Gurudwara.
“The Sikh traditional Langar and tea were available all day long for all visitors to partake. Langar (free community kitchen vegetarian meal) in a Gurudwara is where everyone, irrespective of their gender, caste, color, class, religion, wealth, or social status, a king or a pauper sit together at the same level and are served the same food with the same dignity,” said Sukhdev Kaur Ghuman executive secretary of Sikh Religious Society.
On arrival the Indian consular staff paid their respects (Matha Tekna) to the Guru Granth Sahib in the congregation hall, received Parshaad (blessed sweet pudding), before starting their work. They continued working like a nonstop assembly line with great enthusiasm in a spirit of service, and partook the Langar during a short lunch break before returning to work, till the last applicant was taken care of.
There were question and answer sessions before and after the camp where Consul Vishvas Sapkal addressed the audience and answered PIO / OCI related questions and cleared up many doubts and misunderstandings that many community members had.
“For Indian origin persons, OCI card is better as you get several benefits with it and you are being treated par with NRIs except political rights and you cannot purchase agricultural and plantation land". It’s a lifelong visa to enter India along with other benefits. OCI card is not a dual citizenship, there is no such thing as a dual citizenship with India. Children born to Indian origin parents are also eligible to apply for the OCI card if their parents are eligible for OCI card,” said Consul Vishvas Sapkal, “naturalized foreigners of Indian origin should acquire surrender certificate as it is as per the Passport Act of 1967. Once you acquire foreign citizenship, within three months period you need to renounce your Indian citizenship as per the act. This is to stop abuse of old Indian Passports after changing the citizenship as well as for security of all,” he added.
Indian passport surrender certificate is a requirement in the process to get PIO/OCI cards as well, and to receive any Indian consular services in the future for those who have renounced their Indian citizenship. Those who have a “cancelled” stamp on their latest Indian passport are not required to have the surrender certificate, but are advised to carry a photocopy of the cancelled old Indian passport.
This was the consulate’s 15th and last surrender certificate camp, because now the PIO/OCI and surrender certificate services, (just like the visa to India), have been outsourced to Travisa.
The event was organized by Balwinder Singh Girn, Dr. Amarjit Singh, Mohina Ahluwalia, Harinder Singh (MITS), Baljit Singh Sidhu, Parminder Singh Ghotra, Surinder Singh Sangha, Pardeep Singh Deol, Gurmit Singh Dhillon, Arvinder Singh Gakhal, Jatinder Singh Sangha, Harwinder Paul Singh Lail, Sukhmel Singh Atwal, Amarjit Kaur Atwal, Sunny Kular, Ronny Kular, Onkar Singh Sangha, Mohinderjit Singh Saini, Bhinder Singh Pamma, Yadwinder Singh Grewal, Jasbir Singh Palia, Nimrata Kaur Singh, Amarjeet Singh, Anju Gakhal, Harpreet Kaur Mehta, Surjit Singh Mehta, Kanwar Singh Mehta, Devinder Kaur Deol, Vick Singh, Jaspal Singh Saini, Rishpal Singh, Ankit Multani, Satwant Singh Atal, Harkirat Singh Sandhu, Sukhdev Kaur Ghuman, Surinder Singh Bhatia, and Rajinder Singh Mago.
Sunil Shah and Shahid Razvi of FIA also made an appearance in order to show support and help out.
PCS’s next event in the true spirit of Vaisakhi is to save lives, an all day “Blood Donation Drive”, on Sunday April 10, 2011, 9 am to 3 pm, at Palatine Gurudwara, 1280 Winnetka St., Palatine, IL.
PCS will hold its flagship annual event “Rangla Punjab 2011,” a Punjabi variety cultural program to celebrate Vaisakhi festival, on Saturday April 23, 2011, 7 pm, at Copernicus Theater (formerly Gateway Theater) at 5216 W. Lawrence Avenue Chicago. Bhangra teams from University of Illinois Chicago, University of Iowa, and University of Chicago, along with many other community groups from Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana will showcase their best performances of Bhangra, Gidha, musical songs and hilarious skits. For ticket information please call PCS Chicago.
The Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago is a not-for-profit community service organization devoted to promoting Punjabi culture, language, performing arts, education, good citizenship, healthy life style, and sports in the metropolitan Chicago area. For further information please contact: mail to info@PCSChicago.org