Long queues in Kol for birth cer­tifi­cates amid NRC panic

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The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation - [email protected] times­group.com THE TIMES OF IN­DIA, NEW DELHI

Kolkata: A spurt in ap­pli­ca­tions for birth cer­tifi­cates since last Fri­day has caught the Kolkata Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion (KMC) off guard amid ru­mours about an im­pend­ing NRC ex­er­cise in Ben­gal de­spite CM Ma­mata Ban­er­jee it­er­at­ing thrice in as many days that no such cit­i­zen count would take place in the state.

Subrata Ban­er­jee, an em­ployee of the KMC’s health de­part­ment, said he had never be­fore seen so many peo­ple queu­ing up for birth cer­tifi­cates. “Our de­part­ment can is­sue 100 birth cer­tifi­cates in a day. On each of the past three work­ing days, we re­ceived well over 250 ap­pli­ca­tions,” he said.

The rush since Fri­day is all the more con­found­ing be­cause there has been no sig­nif­i­cant rise in births recorded by city hospi­tals, civic of­fi­cials said. The queues at KMC aren’t just of new par­ents. Many of the ap­pli­cants are mid­dle-aged and se­nior cit­i­zens seek­ing their own birth cer­tifi­cates or want­ing know how they can get one.

Peo­ple in their 40s or older don’t have birth records be­cause the KMC did not is­sue birth cer­tifi­cates un­til around 1980. “Peo­ple who have spent their en­tire lives with­out bir

to th cer­tifi­cates are sud­denly so jit­tery that they want a doc­u­ment that shows they were born here,” an of­fi­cial said.

The scram­ble for birth cer­tifi­cates is be­ing linked to three fac­tors, the first of which is Union home min­is­ter Amit Shah’s sched­uled visit to Kolkata on Oc­to­ber 1. The voter ver­i­fi­ca­tion pro­gramme un­der­taken by the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion and talk of the Ben­gal gov­ern­ment is­su­ing dig­i­tal ra­tion cards have added to spec­u­la­tion that an NRC ex­er­cise is in­evitable.

Sources in the KMC’s so­cial sec­tor de­part­ment said they had been asked to gear up to is­sue non-PDS dig­i­tal ra­tion cards to cit­i­zens above the poverty line, which they could pos­si­bly use as an NRC shield if and when needed.

Full re­port on www.toi.in

Peo­ple wait for their turn to get birth cer­tifi­cates rec­ti­fied at Kolkata Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion head­quar­ters on Tues­day

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