Clear the confusion on NRC
The PM’s statement is welcome, but insufficientUpdated: Dec 23, 2019 20:39 IST
Addressing a rally in Delhi on Sunday, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi defended the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, highlighted his government’s non-discriminatory approach, launched an attack on the Opposition and “urban Naxals” for misleading people, and, most significantly, said that there had been no discussion on the National Register of Citizens (NRC), and argued that no Indian citizen needed to worry about it.
Mr Modi’s statement may be a sign that the government is reconsidering its approach. If so, it means that the PM is open to feedback. But the statement has gaps which the government must address. Mr Modi’s ambiguity on NRC stands in contrast to his own defence of it during the election campaign, but more categorically, home minister Amit Shah’s repeated commitment to a nationwide NRC, on several occasions, including in Parliament. Sure, it may not have been discussed, but it has loomed large on the national consciousness. It is the NRC, more than the CAA, which has caused anxieties among citizens, particularly Muslims and the poor. The fact that there is no clarity on the kind of paperwork required to prove citizenship has only added to the uncertainty. The government has a right to update its citizenship records, but this must not place disproportionate burden on citizens, and force every Indian to prove nationality. Assam’s flawed NRC process had high margins of error and extracted a human cost. The PM must now build on his statement and assure the nation that the NRC is not on the agenda.