Vital surveys or census of the Central and state Statistics Departments, including the 78th round of socioeconomic survey, have been impacted by Kerala by the protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Act [CAA].
Field investigators of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), under the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, and those of the state Economic and Statistics Department are facing stiff resistance in many parts, especially Muslim-dominated areas, where people have linked regular surveys to the CAA, according to officials.
In some cases, field investigators have been manhandled or threatened by people who have decided against allowing any survey or census to be conducted in their areas against the backdrop of CAA, the officials said.
Sunita Bhaskar, Deputy Director-General, NSSO, Thiruvananthapuram, said, “There is resistance against the ongoing socioeconomic survey, labour force survey, and urban frame survey in certain areas. People have been misled by campaigns. We are trying to convince them by speaking to people’s representatives. Our headquarters have also written to the state government and sought official support for the surveys.”
In an attempt to assuage protesters, who are suspicious of questions in these Census or survey forms, Bhaskar said there is no question that can make people suspicious in any way. A few panchayats have passed resolution against these surveys, which have “little to do with NPR or NRC”, due to their “misunderstanding”, she said.
This has slowed down the vital surveys, which are required for planning, Bhaskar maintained.
NSSO field officials said most surveys have come to a halt in Kerala’s Malappuram district. In Kochi and Kottayam, field work has been stopped in five sample areas due to people’s resistance, they said.
“In Thrissur, our field staff was attacked, and in Kollam we were not allowed to speak (to the people),” a senior official of NSSO said. “People shut the door on the field investigators, saying no Central government survey would be allowed in Kerala. They are backed by local leaders of all political parties and other outfits.”
These leaders are even advising people to give wrong answers, which would defeat the purpose of the whole exercise, the NSSO official said.
An official of state Economic and Statistics Department, which is conducting an agricultural census, said one of these field investigators was forced to call the police to escape from a mob which waylaid him during the survey in Kasaragod last week. “We have withdrawn our field staff from certain pockets due to protests and are waiting to see how the situation evolves. Once the sample is allocated for a field office, it is not allowed to go for substitute samples,” the official, in Kozhikode region, said.
Besides the census on agriculture, field surveys on finding the standard of living has also hit a wall in certain areas, particularly in north Kerala.
Officials said people in certain areas are reluctant to answer questions on migration in the socioeconomic survey against the backdrop of the CAA.
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