The Kerala police have registered a case on the basis of information that certain persons working for a New Delhi-based research firm conducted a survey to analyse the demographic distribution as well as the political and religious orientation of members of the Muslim community in certain poor neighbourhoods in Thiruvananthapuram.
The Fort police have registered a case under Section 153 A of the Indian Penal Code. The section pertains to promoting enmity among different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, and language and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.
The police said the survey team that visited the city on October 2 comprised two women and a man. They said the team members had distributed a questionnaire in Malayalam to randomly selected respondents, mostly from the Muslim community, in Charachira and Karimadam colonies. On the basis of a complaint from some local politicians, the police detained two of the survey team members.
They let them off after recording their home addresses and mobile telephone numbers. Officials said the surveyors worked for a Kochi-based franchise of the research firm.
The police said the survey form included questions such as whether Islamic laws were in conflict with the Indian Penal Code, whether India as a nation posed a threat to Islam, the attitude of members of the Muslim community towards Osama Bin Laden and what were the challenges faced by the Muslim community as a whole in India and so on.
The State police were of the view that the questionnaire had a communal overtone. They have also learned that the firm planned to survey as many as 6000 citizens, mostly members of the Muslim community, in 55 different regions in the country. The 85-page two-part questionnaire had 93 questions in all. The second part of the questionnaire was meant exclusively for respondents from the Muslim community.
The police said the firm planned to conduct or had already conducted similar surveys in regional languages in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttaranchal, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal. They were yet to find out whether the firm had conducted any such survey in Gujarat.
A senior police official said they were trying to find out who had commissioned it and for whom. The police were also investigating whether it was initiated or paid for by some business or social organisation or publication which could be a front for certain religious fundamentalist group. They were investigating whether activists of any political organisation helped the surveyors.
Earlier, Union Minister of State for Home Mullapally Ramachandran had told newspersons that the Centre had sought a report from the Intelligence Bureau. The police said they had informed Central agencies about the survey in October through regular channels of intelligence sharing.