E-literacy programme halted in West Bengal due to panic over NRC
Another NGO that ran the programme in four other districts faced similar problems. “Our programme in four districts was completed in December.Updated: Jan 24, 2020 06:03 IST
One of India’s largest digital literacy programmes for women, ‘Internet Sathi’, has been halted in West Bengal due to panic among people over National Register of Citizens (NRC), the NGO that runs the programme in five districts and five other states said.
The programme is run jointly by Google India and Tata Trust and is operated by different NGOs in various districts. Over the past three weeks, incidents were reported from Murshidabad and Birbhum where NGO workers, who had gone to train women in the use of smartphones and internet, were mistaken for those collecting NRC data, and manhandled. Villagers got suspicious as workers would ask for names and addresses of trainees.
“We halted the programme at the end of December in all five districts of West Bengal because our trainers faced trouble. We’ll be holding a meeting with our district coordinators in West Bengal at the end of January to decide on the future course of action,” said Shahid Siddique of the New Delhi-based NGO Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF).
“We are running this programme in six states but are facing this problem only in Bengal,” he said. The districts the NGO covers are Murshidabad, Birbhum, Nadia, South 24-Parganas and Malda.
Another NGO that ran the programme in four other districts faced similar problems. “Our programme in four districts was completed in December. We faced trouble at many places but managed to complete the programme with help of the police and gram panchayats,” said Debasis Panda of Centre for Environmental and Socio Economic Regeneration, an NGO that runs the programme in Purulia, Bankura, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur.
Panic over NRC started spreading after the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Parliament on December 11. On January 4, several hundred people gheraoed the residences of Jasmina Khatun and Rakiba Khatun, who work with DEF, in Murshidabad district.
Over the next few days, health workers, ration dealers and Internet Sathi trainers came under attack in areas under Domkal, Lalbag and Sagardighi police station jurisdictions, all in Murshidabad district.