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Migrant workers from Assam, West Bengal, herded to three centres in Kodagu for identity check

MADIKERI: Thousands of migrant workers, mostly employed in coffee estates across Kodagu, were taken to three centres in the district on Thursday as police carried out an identity verification exercise. The centres in Madikeri, Virajpet and Kushalnagar towns were teeming with crowds as police conducted both offline and online identity verification.

Acting on the orders of Kodagu Superintendent of Police Dr Suman D Pannekar, the district police instructed coffee planters to bring the migrant workers with their documents to the jurisdictional police stations on Thursday morning. From there, the workers were taken to the processing centres.

The verification process continued till evening. While media persons were barred from entering the centres during the morning hours, they were allowed in the afternoon after the crowds thinned out.

The migrant workers, mostly from Assam and West Bengal, had been asked to produce identity proof like Aadhaar card, PAN card and voter IDs. While most of them were estate labourers, some were also from construction sites and resorts.

“Over 5,000 migrant workers were checked for identity proof. Among them, about 500 did not possess the required documents. The estate owners where these 500 workers are employed have been asked to collect the original documents. They have also been instructed not to send back these unverified workers,” the SP said.

Denying that the verification process was linked to the controversial NRC or CAA, the SP said, “No government order has been received in this regard. The verification process is being conducted by Kodagu police themselves. It is being done to control the crime rate in the district and to ensure the safety of the residents. The police now have a database on the number of migrant workers. However, not all have appeared for the verification and steps will be taken to cover them too.”

She said that the exercise was ordered following speculation that terrorists may have taken refuge in coffee estates across Gonikoppal. “The verification is being done to boost public confidence concerning their safety and security,” she said.