A team of researchers from Lucknow, mistaken to be surveyors for National Register of Citizens (NRC), was caught by residents of a village in Bihar’s Darbhanga and handed them over to the police, a senior official said on Sunday. Superintendent of Police (SP), Darbhanga, Babu Ram said the incident took place on Friday when the team, comprising 12 people, including four women, visited a village under Jamalpur police station area.

The team was from a Lucknow-based research organization, which was engaged by a US-based Ph.D. scholar. However, as they began visiting households and collecting information, word spread that “NRC surveyors” had arrived following which villagers grew furious and held them, hostage, for some time before dragging them to the police station.

The situation was defused at the police station where officials verified the identities of the researchers and explained the fact to the villagers, who then went back satisfied, the SP said. He, however, added that similar incidents have taken place in the district recently and an awareness campaign has been launched as part of which residents are being told to “inform the police or local administrative officials” if any surveyors in their area aroused suspicion “instead of illegally detaining them”.

With the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR) spreading in different parts of the country, people engaged in conducting surveys for private research and marketing companies are being mistakenly targeted.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whose party JD(U) is an ally of the BJP, has said that CAA and NRC will not be implemented in his state. However, BJP continues to reiterate that despite protests CAA will be implemented.

Opposition parties have accused the NDA of misleading the people on the issue and pointed out that a country-wide NRC was mentioned in the BJP manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The NRC had also found mention in President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to a joint session of Parliament last year besides in Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s speech when the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was being debated in the Lok Sabha, the opposition parties said.