The Uttar Pradesh police chief on Tuesday wrote to all district superintendents to start a drive to identify foreigners, particularly Bangladeshis, living illegally in the state, amid rumours that the government is set to conduct an NRC-like drive.
O.P. Singh, the director-general of police, however, said the move had nothing to do with the NRC.
Singh’s letter says many Bangladeshis who had migrated to Uttar Pradesh in the past were no longer documented for, which was not good for the internal security of the state.
“It has come to our knowledge that Bangladeshis are living in the state illegally. Many of them have also gone missing. It is necessary in the given situation to strengthen the state’s security by identifying the Bangladeshis and other foreigners staying here,” the DGP said.
Although chief minister Yogi Adityanath has said many times in the past few months that his government would also draw up a National Register of Citizens, like in Assam, Singh claimed before reporters that his order was a “routine exercise” of the state police that “has nothing to do with the NRC”.
“Such exercises have been carried out in the past also to identify Bangladeshis living in the state,” said the DGP, who has asked the district police chiefs to start the drive initially in unorganised colonies that have come up illegally along roads, and hutments near railway stations and bus stands.
Singh has instructed the superintendents to record the drive and also collect digital fingerprints of the “foreigners”.
Singh said the decision to video record the drive had been taken to ensure transparency.
A source in the police department said the superintendents of every district were recently asked to verify the identities of the labourers who were working in construction companies and living in makeshift houses near the work sites.
“The home department has chalked out a plan, which involves coordination with the Boarder Security Force, to send back Bangladeshi people living in the state,” the source said, adding that there was no immediate plan to prepare an NRC.
“However, we cannot say for sure what is going on in the minds of BJP leaders and Adityanath,” the officer said.