Social media posts, claiming that bank accounts and ATMs in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Manipur will be deactivated until the customers become part of the National Registry of Citizens (NRC), are false. The posts also goes on to caution residents of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala to withdraw funds before this kicks in, or they would have trouble later on.
Speaking to BOOM, an official of the Reserve Bank of India has denied any such development. Further, the government has told Parliament in February this year that it has no plans yet to hold a pan-India NRC. In a reply to the Lok Sabha on February 4, Ministry of State for Home Affairs Nithyanand Rai stated, "Till now, the Government has not taken any decision to prepare National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) at the National level."
Read the reply here.
BOOM received the post as a WhatsApp message on its helpline (7700906588) multiple times.
The message reads,
"The government has taken a terrible way of forcibly implementing the NRC. All accounts and ATMs have been closed suddenly in UP Bihar Manipur today and the account will not be activated till NRC's signature is signed.Therefore, the provinces in which the account ATMs are not yet closed, such as Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, etc. You guys will have to withdraw your money sooner or later you will have a lot of trouble. No channels or newspapers reporting this news please tell everyone this story
And spread this message very well.
Mohammad Owais Nandidi"
BOOM also found an instance of this post to be on Facebook.
Earlier in the year, similar claims circulating on social media caused panic after the Central Bank of India, in an advertisement, mentioned a letter issued by the NRC (which should have been NPR) as an RBI-approved 'know your customer' (KYC) document, along with a voter ID, PAN Card, Aadhaar card, driving license and and a card issued by the NREGA. While on the approved list, a BOOM investigation found that this letter by the NPR was a document nobody had heard of.
BOOM filed a Right to Information query with the Registrar General of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs, who confirmed on March 30,
"The Office of RGI under Ministry of Home Affairs has not issued any letter/certificate for National Population Register for all individual or households who were present in NPR database".
Last year, the NRC was concluded in Assam on August 31, leaving close to 1.9 million people of the 33 million Assamese population off the registry, potentially rendering them stateless. The NRC was followed by the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) signed into law on December 12 last year, that granted expedited Indian citizenship to Jain, Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist and Parsi refugees who had entered India before December 31, 2014, fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
Further, the National Population Registry (NPR) - an enumeration exercise to ascertain every usual resident of India regardless of citizenship - was scheduled to be held from April this year until the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and lockdown imposed.
This triumvirate of the NRC, CAA and NPR caused major protests in India starting December through early March. Protestors claimed that non-Muslims left off a potential nationwide NRC would find their way back into Indian citizenry through the CAA, while the data collected through the NPR would feed into a potential NRC. The government denied these claims, calling the CAA a law made on humanitarian grounds, with no decision being announced on an NRC.