Panic withdrawal in TN village after RBI adds NPR to KYC papers

Arun Janardhanan
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Hundreds of customers in Kayalpattinam village, many of them belonging to the Muslim community, reached the bank branch to withdraw their money. (File)

A recent decision of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to include the National Population Register (NPR) letter as a valid document for Know Your Customer (KYC) verification to open bank accounts has triggered panic in a village near Thoothukkudi in Tamil Nadu.

Following the RBI decision, a local branch of Central Bank of India put out an advertisement, informing that an NPR letter would also be accepted as a valid document for KYC verification. Soon after, hundreds of customers in Kayalpattinam village, many of them belonging to the Muslim community, reached the bank branch to withdraw their money.

A government employee who withdrew nearly Rs 50,000 from her account said that nearly all customers of the branch had panicked. “Since we had the experience of demonetisation that forced us to stand in the queue for so many days, every customer who was panicked reached the bank. Bank officials were helpless as they couldn’t convince us why RBI included NPR in the list before it is even updated in most states,” she said.

A bank official said similar reports are coming from branches in many places. “We approached community leaders and jamaat committees of Kayalpattinam to convince our customers as a large amount was withdrawn in less than three days. We do not even know if we could convince all customers and get them back to our branch,” the official said.

The official said over Rs 1 crore was withdrawn by customers by Monday evening and the situation normalised by only on Tuesday after community leaders spread awareness. “Customers were not listening to our words. The panic was so much that even community elders had to struggle to convince them. Most of our customers were Muslims and many of them had taken out almost the entire amount,” the official said.

However, many banks have not yet added NPR letter to the list of valid KYC documents. A senior official of Bank of Baroda said they haven’t added it as “it doesn’t make sense in adding something that doesn’t exist”.

R L Nayak, assistant general manager handling public relations for Central Bank of India, said what happened at Kayalpattinam was unfortunate. “People must have mistaken...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 licence, 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,” he said.