Over 100 Muslims from Tamil Nadu Village Withdraw Savings from Bank over NPR and Citizenship Fears

CNN-News18

Chennai: More than a hundred members of the Muslim community from a village in Tamil Nadu's Nagapattinam district have withdrawn a major part of their savings from a bank over the last few days as they feared they might lose their money when the government initiates the proposed National Population Register (NPR) exercise.

A video of locals from Therizhandur village holding talks with branch officials of the Indian Overseas Bank (OB) has surfaced, in which the latter can be heard urging villagers to not withdraw their money.

The manager and bank staff held talks with representatives of the local Jamath at a school campus on Friday and assured them that the submission of documents during the proposed NPR exercise is not mandatory and their savings are safe with the bank.

However, the Jamath in-charge said villagers have been living in fear since the amended Citizenship Act was passed in both Houses of Parliament and that they feared losing their hard-earned money.

“We have been hearing about banks including NPR documents as part of the KYC (Know Your Customer) list. We don’t want to lose our savings in the future. We are not sure what documents are required to prove our citizenship. Therefore, we decided to withdraw the money saved over the years,” said Jamath in-charge Haja, adding that many villagers feel they may soon land themselves in trouble for not having the requisite documents.

In January, a notification from the Central Bank of India in Tamil newspapers triggered panic among residents of Kayalpattinam in Thoothukudi district. It asked account-holders to submit their KYC documents at the earliest — among the list of acceptable proofs was a mention of the NPR.

Soon after, villagers, most of whom are Muslims, started queuing up outside the bank branch as fear gripped locals that this was somehow connected to the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act.

Over Rs 4 crore was withdrawn from the bank in a span of three days, with some of the account-holders emptying out their entire deposits from the bank.

Fear and uncertainty has gripped the community since the CAA came into force. The legislation expedites the granting of citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and was passed in Parliament last December. Several citizens and critics have criticised the proposed implementation of the nationwide NPR, followed by the National Register of Citizens (NRC). They fear the combined application of the three processes may create trouble for members of the minority community who may not be able to provide all the required documents.