No nationwide NRC plan yet, government tells Parliament | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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No nationwide NRC plan yet, government tells Parliament

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByNeeraj Chauhan, New Delhi
Feb 05, 2020 01:30 AM IST

Union minister of state for home Nityanand Rai said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha: “Till now, the government has not taken any decision to prepare the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) at the national level.”

The government said in Parliament on Tuesday that no decision has been taken as of now to prepare a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC). This is the first time such an admission has ben made in Parliament and it comes against the backdrop of protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, and the proposed NRC.

Demonstrators protesting against CAA,NRC and NPC in Mumbai.(Satyabrata Tripathy/HT File)
Demonstrators protesting against CAA,NRC and NPC in Mumbai.(Satyabrata Tripathy/HT File)

It also claimed that when data for National Population Register (NPR) is collected between April and September, no documents will be sought nor any verification be carried out to identify individuals whose citizenship is in doubt.

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Union minister of state for home Nityanand Rai said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha: “Till now, the government has not taken any decision to prepare the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) at the national level.”

Some of the protests against the CAA, which fast-tracks Indian citizenship for non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who entered India before December 31, 2014, arise from fears that the act will used in tandem with the proposed NRC.

A similar exercise in Assam last year excluded 1.9 million people, both Hindus and Muslims. Subsequently, in the run-up to the 2019 elections, several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including current home minister Amit Shah, said the NRC would be implemented in tandem with CAA.

After the elections, President Ram Nath Kovind too, on June 20, 2019, said the Narendra Modi government had decided to implement the process of NRC on a “priority basis”. Kovind had said illegal infiltrators posed a major threat to India’s internal security and this was leading to social imbalance in many parts of the country as well as putting huge pressure on limited livelihood opportunities.

However, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the home ministry said in December that there is no plan for a nationwide NRC.

Several opposition parties had given notices in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha seeking a debate and also answers on CAA, NRC and the NPR on Monday.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) , Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) gave notices under Rule 267 to adjourn all other business and sought a discussion on the CAA, NPR and NRC.

Opponents of the amended law say it is discriminatory and unconstitutional as it leaves out Muslims and links faith to citizenship in a secular country. Protests against the law continue in many parts of the country. There have also been protests against the ongoing NPR exercise.

NPR is a comprehensive biometric database of all “usual residents” in India as opposed to the Census, which is a database of households. It has generated controversy with the opposition parties contending that the exercise is linked to the NRC and aimed at identifying undocumented immigrants. The government has in the past described NPR as the first step towards a nationwide NRC. It now maintains that there is no link between the two.

On a query related to NPR, Rai said in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday: “The NPR updation will be undertaken through house-to-house enumeration for collection of specified particulars relating to each family and individual. The respondent has to provide the information true to the best of his knowledge and belief.”

Rai also made it clear that no document will be collected during the updation of NPR and providing the Aadhaar number during the exercise is voluntary.

The government is already in discussion with the states having concerns with regard to the preparation of the NPR. The demographic and other particulars of each family and individual are to be updated/collected during the exercise of updation of NPR. Rai added that an instruction manual for updation of NPR 2020 for enumerators and supervisors has been prepared and people will have to provide information for the NPR to the best of their knowledge and belief.

The minister also said that no verification will be done to identify individuals whose citizenship is doubtful.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has termed the NPR “a dangerous game”, which seeks birth details and residential proof of parents. She has said it is a precursor to the NRC.

The Kerala government has announced that it will implement the Census exercise but will not cooperate with the NPR.

The Union government also denied on Tuesday the construction of any detention camps in Assam “exclusively” to detain those who do not have documents proving their citizenship under the National Register of Citizens. Interestingly, the ministry of home affairs has called the detention centres in Assam as “holding centres” in its reply in Parliament. Rai informed Parliament that 1,381 detainees have been in holding centres for the past three years in Assam after they were declared foreigners by foreigners tribunals.

The MHA also informed Parliament on Tuesday that 21,408 foreigners had been granted Indian citizenship since 2010.

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