“Religion cannot be a marker for availing banking services and this amendment should immediately be withdrawn by RBI” a statement issued by around 50 civil society organisations and concerned citizens said.

This is in the wake of the news reports that banks may introduce a new column in ‘know your customer’ (KYC) forms for their depositors and clients to mention their religion.

Full statement:

Financial Accountability Network India condemns RBI’s amendment of Foreign Exchange Management Regulations (FEMA) Act, that requires customers with a Non-Resident Ordinary (NRO) account to identify their religion for their ‘Know your Customer’ (KYC) details. The changes, which are in tandem with the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) excludes Muslims and Atheist from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan from buying property in India.

At a time when the banking sector is unable to come out of the crisis that it is already in, this is a well-designed and planned move to further divide the secular country.  Moreover, this move also indicates the willingness of RBI to be used as a political tool of the government. Just like demonetization, that is only going to create more confusion and panic among the people. In recent times, the RBI along with the government have involved in successive anti-people policies instead of finding effective solutions for the corporate loot of the banks. From the merger of banks, giving more corporate tax cuts, shifting the loss to the people through bank charges, attempts to bring FRDI Bill, push towards online banking have all only increased the pressure on banks and the people!

These policies have also been in tandem with the government’s push towards privatizing public sector units through disinvestment and systematically weakening the public sector banks. What we need is a resolution of the existing crisis and not one that would create more stress among the people. To include religion in KYC details is an unconstitutional move.

This is the first time that banks are introducing religion as a criterion for any banking activity and must be steadfastly opposed. It is deplorable that RBI is lining with the communal agenda of the government, especially when there is a country-wide protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act! This move is even more dangerous if such a policy is extended to all accounts. With the government not scaling back on its idea to bring in National Register of Citizenship (NRC), such a move from RBI to dove-tail its policy on communal lines is alarming.

Religion cannot be a marker for availing banking services and this amendment should immediately be withdrawn by RBI.

Endorsed by:

Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan / National Alliance of People’s Movements

Devidas Tuljapurkar, General Secretary Maharashtra State Bank Employees Federation & Joint Secretary, All India Bank Employees Association

Thomas Franco, former General Secretary, All India Bank Officers Confederation

T R Bhatt, Former Banker and Writer

Gautam Mody, General Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)

Soumya Dutta, MAUSAM

Vimal Bhai, National Alliance of People’s Movements

Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD

Leo F. Saldanha, Environment Support Group, Bengaluru

Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune

Dr. Virendra Vidrohi, General Secretary, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)

Girija Pathak, National Convener All India People’s Forum (AIPF)

Ashok Choudhary, All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP)

Vijayan M J, General Secretary, Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD)

Shreedhar Ramamurthi, Environics Trust, New Delhi

Anil T Varghese, Delhi Forum

Moumita Datta, All India Bank Officers’ Confederation

Dr. Bharat Patel, Machimar Adhikar Sangarsh Samiti, Gujarat

Ram Wangkheirakpam, Indigenous Perspectives, Manipur

Senthil Babu, French Institute, Pondicherry

Arun, The Media Collective, New Delhi

Rajendra Ravi, ‎Institute for Democracy and Sustainability (IDS), New Delhi

Vidya Dinkar, Karavali Karnataka Janabhivridhi Vedike, Mangaluru

Anivar Aravind, Indic Project, Bengaluru

Srikanth, Cashless Consumer

Srujana Merugu, Independent Machine Learning Researcher

Ravindranath, River Basin Friends, Assam

Raj Kumar Sinha, Bargi Bandh Visthapit Avam Prabhavit Sangh, Madhya Pradesh

Vickram Crishna, Independent Researcher

Deben Sharma, Manipur

Sanjeev Kumar Danda, Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM), New Delhi

Vineet Tiwari, Joshi-Adhikari Institute of Social Studies, New Delhi

Musthujab, Delhi Solidarity Group

Kailash Nadh, Swanthanthra Malayalam Computing

Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi

Sanat Chakravarti, Journalist, Manipur

Amit Kumar, Student, Faculty of Law, Delhi University

Purnima Gupta, New Delhi

Urvashi Vashist, New Delhi

Nadeem Ansari, New Delhi

Gunjan Jain

Macherla Mohan Rao

Uzra Bilgrami

Vivek, Hyderabad

Karuna Miryam

Jayasree Subramanian

Vishrut Aggarwal, New Delhi

Working Group on International Financial Institutes (WGonIFIs)

Financial Accountability Network India (FAN India)

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