Beeline for birth certificates to prove citizenship in UP amid row over CAA | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Beeline for birth certificates to prove citizenship in UP amid row over CAA

Hindustan Times, Lucknow/Prayagraj/Meerut/Varanasi/Agra | ByHT Correspondents
Jan 10, 2020 03:22 PM IST

In Lucknow, the number of birth certificates issued in December 2019 has gone up three times compared to the same period last year.

Amid the row over the Citizenship Amendment Act, coupled with alarm regarding the imminent implementation of National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizenship (NRC), there is a sudden spurt in demand for birth certificates, particularly among the minorities.

Applications pouring in from adults and middle aged, mostly Muslims.(HT Photo)
Applications pouring in from adults and middle aged, mostly Muslims.(HT Photo)

Needless to state, the rush is spurred by the anxiety to get relevant documents to prove one’s citizenship.

Born in 1968, Sarfaraz from the old city of Agra was in queue at the birth registration office in Agra Nagar Nigam, to apply for his birth certificate.

“I was born in 1968 and never felt need of a birth certificate but now with CAA, NRC and NPR, I am following others and to prove my nationality, if required, I will produce a birth certificate which I am going to get from Agra Nagar Nigam registration department,” he said.

Scores of similar applicants can be seen at civic offices across the state every day. In desperation, many people are hiring lawyers to help fill forms while others are getting letters from corporators as residential proof.

In Lucknow, the number of birth certificates issued in December 2019 has gone up three times compared to the same period last year. In December 2019, the Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC) issued 6193 birth certificates, against 2012 issued in December 2018. Around 2130 of these were for new born babies while others were for aged individuals, mostly Muslims.

Ashok Singh, chief tax fixation officer of Lucknow Municipal Corporation who is also in charge of birth and death section said, “There has been an increase in demand for birth certificates, specially by aged Muslims. Seeing the spurt, we have decided to issue the certificates at zonal level too.” He said 30% of the applicants were over 40 years of age.

Municipal commissioner Indramani Tripathi said, “Getting a birth certificate for a new born child is much easier than for an aged person. According to the new rules, the birth certificate of the hospital where the person was born is essential but most people approaching LMC for birth certificates are claiming that they were born at home and are producing an affidavit regarding this fact. Many others are coming with Adhaar number, voter identity card, mark sheet, High School certificate, passport and certificate of the area’s corporator.”

Lawyers help fill forms

Niaz Ahmed, 57, a resident of City Station, Golaganj who just got his birth certificate said, “I wanted this as proof of my citizenship after the CAA controversy. I had to bring my lawyer to apply for birth certificate. He deposited all the valid documents required by the corporation as I was born at home.”

Shadab Hussain of the same locality said, “I have also applied with full documents with the help of my lawyer.” He also claimed that he was born at home.

Clerk in the birth and death section Rashid Khan said, “Most of the applicants are Muslims. I don’t know why they are approaching for birth certificate now. May be confusion about CAA and NRC forced them to get birth certificate.”

City Congress president Mukesh Singh Chauhan said, “The three-fold increase in demand of birth certificate indicates how people are feeling unsafe due to CAA and NRC.”

‘Never thought I would need a birth cert in my ‘50s’

Officials of Prayagraj Municipal Corporation (PMC said, “The numbers have significantly gone up during the past three to four months.”.

PMC staff handling the work at its zonal offices confirmed that a large number of applicants for birth certificates were Muslims. They said earlier most such applications were for new born kids or those up to five years of age for admission in schools, while adults applied for passport purposes.

“However, now suddenly a large number of people in their ‘30s and ‘40s are also coming for birth certificates,” said AK Jain, a clerk at PMC. He said on an average 25 applications were received every day at each of the five zonal offices of PMC with many applicants looking into their old records in the wake of CAA and forthcoming NRC.

“Over 1,000 applications for birth certificates have already been received in all five zonal offices in Sangam city from the 30 + age group, most of which are from Muslims,” he confided.

Uttam Kumar Verma, environment engineer, PMC who also has charge of Nagar Swasthya Adhikari, admitted there was a spurt in demand for birth certificates and apart from kids, applications from grown-ups were also pouring in. “However, as we do not maintain data of certificates issued on the basis of religion or age, providing exact numbers is a tough task,” he said.

Akram Khan, 50, a businessman who is resident of Tulsipur in Kareli locality in Sangam city and his 45-year old wife Sadia Bano are also in queue these days for their birth certificates. “I never thought that I would suddenly need a birth certificate in my ‘50s. Born and brought up in Prayagraj, I decided to get birth certificates made for me and my wife following the talk that even citizens of India may need to prove their citizenship. Not wanting to take any chances I approached a lawyer friend to inquire about the documents I may need to get the birth certificates made as we both lack hospital slips of our birth,” said Akram with a rueful smile on his face.

The automobile paint dealer shared that initially he feared that he would be the only one of his age group queuing up for the birth certificate but was surprised on seeing many others of his age and faith standing in the queue.

Fear of being stateless

In Varanasi, on an average, 300 people are submitting applications for birth certificate daily. As a result, long queue at the birth/death registration office at the municipal corporation has become routine for the past four days, with over 1,000 applications pouring in.

Among those seeking certificates, many are middle -aged and most of them Muslim. Majority of the applications is from Jaitpura, Chhittupura, Rewadi Talab, Madanpur, Saraiya, Naati Imali.

A man born in 1971, who was standing in the queue at VMC’s birth/death registration office, said on condition of anonymity, “I am a weaver. I earn my livelihood by weaving sarees. I have heard that the birth certificate will be required for the NRC. That is why I have applied for it.” A tailor from Bajardiha, who also submitted his application on Thursday, also said that he had heard that birth certificate may be required to prove citizenship during NRC survey. So he applied for it.

Nagar Swasthya Adhikari (City health officer) Ramshakal Yadav said that applications were being received and process for issuing birth certificates was on. A senior official of the municipal corporation said that there were no instructions that birth certificate was mandatory (for CAA or NRC) and this had been conveyed to people. Councillor of Katehar ward Afzal Ansari said that ever since CAA came into focus, people were confused about citizenship issues and were desperate to seek birth certificates. He said neither the government nor the local administration had sought birth certificates from citizens so they need not worry about it.

‘Birth certificate can be demanded any time’

In Meerut, Ayesha, 29, of Lisari Gate area who reached the Nagar Nigam on Thursday with two women neighbours to apply for birth certificates, said, “Birth certificate is an important document and I need it because anybody can demand it anytime”.

Rafeeq Ansari, Samajwadi Party MLA from the city area, said every day 400 to 500 people, most of them Muslims, approached him to seek his letter required for applying for Aadhaar card and other documents, including birth certificates. He said, “Local MLAs and MPs are authorized to endorse residential proof of a person. So people are approaching them in large numbers, specially after the announcement of CAA.”

Ansari said he had deputed his staff to provide letters to people and the staff had now got a printed format of the letter which they issued after filling names and other details. “It helps in providing letters immediately,” said the MLA.

Nagar swasthya adhikari Dr Gajendra Singh said that his office witnessed nearly 40% spurt in applications for birth certificates from people in the age group of 10 to below 60 years. Among these applicants, 75% were Muslims, said officials.

Singh, however, said the demand for birth certificates decreased by 10-15% in the past few weeks and people now didn’t seem in much hurry as they were during the past one and a half months.

“Still 100-150 people of different age groups apply for birth certificates every day,” he said. The staff was more vigilant in issuing certificates and a thorough verification of documents was carried out before issuing certificates, said Singh.

Rajendra Sharma, former in-charge of the record room, said it was mandatory since 2013 to apply online for birth certificate. He also admitted that the demand for birth certificates increased in the past two months.

Sharma explained that those who did not possess proof of their date and place of birth needed to submit an affidavit, which a team verified before issuing certificate.

A similar spurt in demand for certificates was also seen in Hapur.

Jitendra Kumar Anand, executive officer of Hapur Nagar Palika, said his office suddenly witnessed demand for birth certificates last month and most of the applicants were Muslims.

People in the age group of 45-60 also turned up in good numbers to seek birth certificates. He, however, said now only 10- 20 persons were applying for the documents as compared to 40 daily a few days ago. He explained that Palika had record from 1969 and those who wanted certificates prior to that needed to provide additional documents, witnesses and affidavits to complete their documents.

“We issue documents to those who come with required documents,” he said.

In Agra, the nagar Nigam staff has more work to do now, for even elders are walking down the corridor and are asking for their birth certificates. This increase of about 15 to 20 % in applications for birth certificates is attributed to the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act.

“Yes, there is increase in the number of applicants for the birth certificates after the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Besides this, many are visiting office to enquire about the procedure to get the birth certificate.” said Shobha (who goes by one name) and is first grade clerk at office for Registration of Births and Deaths at Nagar Nigam.

“The birth registration department is receiving about 70-80 applications a day which is much more than what got in the past. In November 2019, we issued 6226 birth certificates but in December, the number rose to 8340,” she said.

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