THOOTHUKUDI: A vaguely drafted notification from the Central Bank of India, listing “National Population Register (NPR) letter” as a document for Know Your Customer (KYC) update, has opened a Pandora’s box in Kayalpattinam.
The area with the majority Muslim population witnessed a ‘fund withdrawal spree’, despite the bank officials coming out with a clarification saying that submission of NPR letter is not compulsory.
It all began with the bank coming up with a notification in newspapers dated January 11, saying that those (account holders) who haven’t submitted their KYC documents must do it for uninterrupted service.
The notification listed a number of documents such as PAN card, passport, voter identity card, driving licence, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act card, Aadhaar and NPR letter as proof of identity and address.
However, the vaguely drafted notification did give ample room for customers to misinterpret it as the notice was unclear on whether one has to submit all the documents or just one of them for KYC update.
The notification went on to say that the accounts of those who do not submit the documents before January 31 would be frozen.
This created unrest among Muslims, who have been thronging the Kayalpattinam Central Bank of India branch and withdrawing their savings and deposits for the last three days.
Mass cash withdrawal rattles bank
While the withdrawal crossed Rs 1 crore on Saturday, it shot up to Rs 1.85 crore on Monday. Sources told Express that the branch has some 15,000 account holders, with Muslims constituting about 90 per cent of them.
The ‘fund withdrawal spree’ forced the bank officials to give a clarification on January 19 saying that the customers need to submit any one of the listed documents, but not all.
However, this failed to allay the fears of Muslims as the withdrawal amount crossed Rs 1.5 crore on Tuesday.
“To handle the rush, the bank had to issue tokens to the customers,” a source told Express, adding that the clarification had little effect on the Muslim community.
When Express made a visit to the bank, one Mohideen said he withdrew his entire savings -- Rs 1.06 lakh -- from his savings account. “My account has just Rs 1000 now. We are afraid that things may go south.”
A Muslim woman, who did not want to be named, told TNIE that she withdrew Rs 1.5 lakh on Monday. “The money is for my daughter’s marriage. I withdrew it in advance as I am afraid that something will happen to my savings.” Some also withdrew their money to show the community’s opposition to the BJP-led Union government.
A Muslim trader, with whom Express spoke, is one among such people. Standing in the queue, he said: “NPR, Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens (NRC) have created an unrest among the community. The public had suffered a lot after demonetisation. To express our opposition, the customers are withdrawing the money. The centre is unmoved by the protests. Hence, this (mass fund withdrawal) is an ideal way to show our opposition.”
A local resident said the ‘fund withdrawal spree” spread to other banks in Kayalpattinam too. “Customers made a serpentine queue at an Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) branch to withdraw their savings on Tuesday,” he added.
To allay the fears, bank officials met the local Muslim leaders belonging to Kayalpattinam Muslim Iykiya Peravai, a consortium of Jamats and local Muslim organisations, on Tuesday and explained about the notice.
A bank official told Express that banners would be erected at public places to educate the customers on the KYC update.
Kayalpattinam Muslim Iykiya Peravai assistant secretary Nawas Ahamad said: “The notice triggered fear among Muslims.” When asked, the bank officials could not explain as to why NPR letter was included as one of the proof even as the NPR procedure is on the cards. We requested the bank for a mass contact programme.
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