ID card storm: Khanna backtracks, says no mandatory order issued

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New Delhi, Jan 7 (UNI) Facing a barrage of criticism over his proposal to make possession of ID cards compulsory for residents of the national capital from January 15, Delhi Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna today clarified that no mandatory order had been issued in this regard.

''No mandatory order has been issued regarding compulsory possession of ID cards or their checking as such by the police from January 15, 2008. Nor was it ever intended or suggested that non-possession of a photo ID would be treated as any kind of violation or elicit punitive action by the police,'' Mr Khanna assured a delegation led by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

He later reiterated it at a news conference as well.

The Lt Governor said that he had instructed the Police Commissioner to increase surveillance in different parts of the NCT and screen persons arousing suspicion in view of the heightened security threat and to improve public security consciousness.

''During such screening, possession of any photo identification document would be of convenience to the persons whose conduct may have aroused suspicion,'' he said.

The police would increase surveillance in the capital during periods of enhanced security threat perception such as Republic Day, Independence Day and religious festivals.

Ms Dikshit, leading a delegation of her cabinet colleagues, and a group of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee members led by J P Aggarwal called on the Lt Governor today to seek a clarification on the ID card issue which has snowballed into a political controversy following a deluge of criticism from various quarters.

The BJP has termed the January 4 announcement ''impractical, while the CPI(M) has demanded the withdrawal of the ''draconian'' provision.

The state Congress unit was also a divided house on the issue with Congress MP from east Delhi Sandeep Dikshit criticising the move.

UNI RR MS KN1439

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