Sabrang India had reported on January 16 that two nationalised banks had added the “NPR letter” to list of documents acceptable for KYC of customers. This was done after the RBI issued a directive to banks, a letter from NPR containing details of name and address is to be accepted by banks for opening a bank account or to fulfil any other KYC norms. The Central Bank of India issued a notification to this regard but later also issued a clarification stating that NPR letter is not a mandatory document.
Yet, it has led to panic in a village near Thoothukkudi in Tamil Nadu. Soon after the notification was issued by the local branch, hundreds of customers in Kayalpattinam village, many of them belonging to the Muslim community, reached the bank branch to withdraw their money.
Among the many people who withdrew their money was a government employee as well who said that she withdrew Rs. 50,000 from her account and that many customers of the bank 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.
One of the officials of Central bank of India said that similar reports had come in from few other branches. He also said that community leaders were approached to convince the people and to reassure them. “We approached community leaders and jamaat committees of Kayalpattinam to convince our customers as a large amount was withdrawn in less than three days.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.
Community leaders managed to spread some awareness in their community and the situation seemed to be under control by Tuesday but by Monday evening the customers had already withdrawn Rs. 1 crore from their accounts. The official further said that no amount of convincing worked for the customers despite of community leaders stepping in. He said that most of their customers were Muslims and many of them had almost emptied their bank accounts.
However, this is not the case with all nationalised banks. Bank of Baroda, for example, has not issued a notification to this regard as of yet because “it doesn’t make sense in adding something that doesn’t exist,” said a senior officer of the bank.
The Assistant General Manager of Public relations at Central bank of India spoke about the issue and said that what happened in the village in Tamil Nadu was extremely unfortunate. He further explained that Aadhar card is proof enough and in case of PAN card, any other documents can be used for address proof like passport, voter identity card, driving licence, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act card. He said the NPR letter was merely added to this list of documents in case somebody possesses that document.
The point put forth by the Bank of Baroda official was also made by Sabrang India, as to why a document is added to the list of Officially Valid Documents when it does not even exist.
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