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Mistaken for CAA, NRC surveyors, people held hostage in Bihar

The villagers in Darbhanga district assuming that a survey team of 12 people were affiliated to a particular political party and conducting a survey for the CAA and the NRC

As the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR) protests are spreading in different parts of Bihar, people engaged in conducting surveys for private research and marketing companies are being mistakenly held hostages by people amid apprehensions of being attacked.

A survey team of 12 people, including four women, doing research work for Lucknow-based Morsel Research and Development Pvt. Ltd. on behalf of a Ph.D researcher of Yale University in U.S., were held hostages for hours on Friday in Jhagarua village under Jamalpur police station of Darbhanga district.

The Ph.D scholar, Shikhar Singh, is said to be doing research at Yale University on the topic of “Role of social identity in political preferences”.

The villagers had held them hostage on the assumption that they were affiliated to a particular political party and conducting survey in support of the CAA and the NRC.

“Getting information, we quickly reached the place and took them out of the village…had we been late, they would have been attacked by the villagers,” said Jamalpur police station officer Anwar Ansari.

Second incident

Local people in Darbhanga told The Hindu that this was the second incident in the district in the last 10 days.

“On January 17 also, a man conducting some survey for a Gurgaon-based television company was attacked by people in Karamaganj locality of Darbhanga town area as the attackers mistook him for collecting data for the CAA and the NRC,” a local journalist said. He was identified as Prince Singh and handed over to the police.

Similar incidents of “mistaken hostages” of people engaged in some private research or marketing surveys have come from others districts such as Champaran, Begusarai and Bhagalpur.

“Even if we’re not being attacked or held hostages at some places, people get angry and ask us to get lost the moment we begin our questionnaire…yes, at some places they get violent too,” Binit Kumar, a young man engaged in such surveys, told The Hindu.

“In the present volatile atmosphere in view of the anti-CAA, NRC protests in different corners of the State, there is danger lurking for those people hired and engaged by private companies for field research work to be held hostages and attacked,” a senior police official said, while adding, “I would suggest that they stay away from such work for some time”.

“In view of the CAA-NRC-NPR there is lot of anger and protests going in the different parts of the State…people seem to be seething with rage against this law,” retired Patna University professor and social activist N.K. Singh said.

The stir has spread to as many as 12 districts in Bihar where people have been sitting on dharnas round the clock, demanding withdrawal of the new law while swaying the national flag and reciting poems of Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Azadi (freedom) songs.

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