KOLKATA: The TMC-run Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has decided to put its drive to update Aadhaar details on hold, following protests by people, who feared that the exercise was being conducted to collect data for the National Population Register (NPR).
The decision drew sharp criticism from the BJP, which accused the ruling party of creating an "atmosphere of fear" among the masses to pursue vote-bank politics. Locals had hit the road in Watgunge area of the city on Wednesday evening, after two officials of a private bank, engaged to collect details for Aadhaar, visited the area, a source at the civic body said.
The protesters blocked the road, refused to provide details and held the officials captive for three hours, alleging that the process was being carried out for updating NPR -- an exercise, which the Mamata Banerjee government said, would not be allowed in Bengal. The CM had also stated that NPR was a "dangerous game", which could lay the groundwork for NRC.
According to the KMC source, it was only after the police intervened, the two officials were rescued and later arrested. Both have been booked on charges of criminal conspiracy and under various sections of the IT Act, and remanded in police custody till February 12.
The source also said that the form for Aadhaar update was an old one and had an NPR column, which led to panic among the locals in Watgunge. Expressing concern over the incident, Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim said all work to update and rectify Aadhaar cards have been put on hold to avoid a breakdown of law and order.
"We have asked our officials to immediately stop Aadhaar card updation and rectification at all borough offices. There was some panic in Watgunge area. We don't want any panic as it might lead to a law and order situation," the senior TMC leader told reporters.
Hakim, who had filed the complaint against the two officials, also said he sought a clarification from the bank with reference to the use of old NPR forms. "We have asked them to stop work on Aadhaar enrolment and rectification, till the time a clarification is received," the mayor added.
The civic body is set to go to polls in April. Slamming the TMC for stalling the Aadhaar drive, the BJP claimed that the ruling party was "trying to take back the state to Stone Age".
"They (TMC) have stopped NPR, they are now stopping Aadhaar updation. It seems the TMC thinks that Bengal is not a part of India, but a nation of its own. They would get a befitting reply in the upcoming polls," BJP leader Shamik Bhattacharya said.
CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty, on his part, said both the BJP and the TMC were trying to push their "divisive" agenda, even as people lived in fear and confusion.