Since December 13, India has been witnessing relentless voices of dissent against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The CAA-NRC-NPR has been welcomed with fear and insecurity and had triggered never-ending demonstrations and marches. The decision of the central government was clearly seen as an organized attempt to create an environment of panic. And this incident that happened at Kayalpattanam, a village in Tamil Nadu shows exactly how people view this recent exercise.
A Central bank branch in Tamil Nadu’s Kayalpattanam village near Thoothukkudi recently issued an advertisement. The advertisement called for the submission of the National Population Register (NPR) letter as a part of its KYC (Know Your Customer) initiative. It also said that accounts of those who do not submit the documents before January 31 would be frozen. The advertisement but met with unprecedented consequences.
The notice caused panic among the customers who immediately started withdrawing money from the branch. There were long queues in front of the bank between January 20 and 22nd, according to reports. A lot of them reportedly said that they were scared that their money would be blocked. As per reports, a total of Rs. 4.5 crore was withdrawn in panic which is six times their usual figure. Close to 90% account-holders at the branch are Muslims.
Calling it an unfortunate circumstance, R L Nayak, the assistant general manager responded to Indian Express, “If someone has an Aadhaar card, that is enough for KYC. If one has a PAN card, we will ask for a second document for address proof. So normally we collect two documents from those who do not have Aadhaar. The number of documents usually considered for KYC verification is half a dozen, including PAN card, passport, voter identity card, driving license, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act card and Aadhaar. After RBI included NPR letter in the list recently, we had to add it in our advertisement as we cannot deny that in case someone comes with an NPR letter.”
Protests also erupted in various parts of Tamil Nadu, which challenged to boycott the bank.
Speaking to Indian Express, a Muslim businessman said that the central government is unmoved by the protests. And that mass withdrawal is a medium of expressing their dissent towards this indifference.
Following the withdrawal spree, the bank issued a statement clarifying that the ‘customer can submit any oneof the officially valid documents for Identity Proof and Address Proof.’
To soothe the temper the bank officials also met community leaders belonging to the Kayalpattinam Muslim Iykiya Peravai to convince the customers and get them back to the branch.
Meanwhile, NPR is most likely to be launched in April by the Central government. The decision has resulted in wider dissent among people as it can be a first step in assessing the legitimacy of one’s ‘citizenship.’