Police have been distributing “census” forms across Srinagar, seeking personal details including their phone numbers and occupation, reported Hindustan Times.
Police acknowledged the conduct of the exercise, but refused to cite the reasons for it. Notably, the economics and statistics department said the Government of India has not started any census exercise in Kashmir.
“Officially the government of India has not yet notified the start of the census,” Srinagar district statistics and evaluation officer Anika Mushtaq said, adding that she went through the forms and they were not part of any census exercise.
The forms titled “Census Format 2023” with name of respective police station of the area has a blank space where name of the mohalla has to be jotted down. Each family has to fill the form with details like house number, name of the family head with cell number, family members, and their relation with family head.There are separate columns for age and occupation, along with two other “lat” and “long” columns.
The residents of Old City said that police officials have been visiting mohallas and handing over forms to the elderly people and mosque management heads to forward them to residents.
“Last month, three policemen visited me and handed over the forms. They want people to fill in the details which are there in ration cards besides phone numbers and aadhar numbers. A few days back, they called again and wanted the forms submitted as soon as possible. We have no idea why they are seeking such details,” he said.
Another Srinagar resident said the police were dropping such forms in mosques to be handed over to people for submission. “Earlier they asked residents to submit details of tenants which were alright owing to some criminal cases. But this latest form is seeking personal details of everyone and is very disturbing,” he said.
When questioned about the issue in a message, additional director general of police, Vijay Kumar refused to comment saying he “explained it during a recent iftar dinner and won’t repeat”. Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Srinagar, meanwhile, Rakesh Balawal remained unavailable for comments despite multiple attempts.
Such data collection exercises by police are not new in Kashmir. Police had in 2012 issued similar “census” forms, which had elicited harsh reactions from civil society terming it “political and racial profiling”. Police had defended such actions on the pretext of “modern policing”. By 2016, such forms had become more intrusive like residents had to file details like their affiliations to religious sects or Maslak. (HT)