The Kodagu Police in Karnataka on Thursday conducted a massive document verification exercise of migrants workers living in the district, The New Indian Express reported. Thousands of workers, mostly employed in the district’s coffee plantations, were taken to three centres in Madikeri, Virajpet and Kushalnagar towns.

Superintendent of Police Suman D Pannekar issued an order to all police stations in Kodagu to verify the documents of the workers. Directions were also issued to the plantation owners. The workers were brought to the jurisdictional police stations and then taken to the processing centres. The verification process continued till Thursday evening.

Police conducted both online and offline identity verification. The workers were mostly from Assam and West Bengal. Officials scrutinised their Aadhaar card, Permanent Account Number card and voter IDs.

Pannekar said the identity proof of more than 5,000 migrant workers was examined. “Among them, about 500 did not possess the required documents,” she added. “The estate owners where these 500 workers are employed have been asked to collect the original documents. They have also been instructed not to send back these unverified workers.”

The exercise was carried out at a time when protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens are going on across India. The register is a proposed nationwide exercise to identify undocumented immigrants.

However, she clarified that the information was not being collected for the National Register of Citizens exercise or the Citizenship Amendment Act. “No government order has been received in this regard,” Pannekar added. “The verification process is being conducted by Kodagu Police themselves. It is being done to control the crime rate in the district and to ensure safety of the residents. The police now have a database on the number of migrant workers. However, not all have appeared for the verification and steps will be taken to cover them too.”

She said there were a few cases of heinous crimes committed by migrant workers in the recent past. There was also speculation that terrorists may have taken refuge in coffee estates across Gonikoppal town.

“The verification is being done to boost public confidence concerning their safety and security,” the superintendent of police added.

Earlier this week, the police in Karnataka’s capital city Bengaluru and the municipality had demolished more than 100 makeshift homes during an eviction drive in Kariyammana Agrahara, a locality in the suburb of Bellandur.