NRC fears trigger rush to get birth certificates | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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NRC fears trigger rush to get birth certificates

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondents
Jan 11, 2020 01:10 AM IST

The central government, however, has clarified that no documents will be needed for registration under NPR and the entire exercise is based on “self declaration”. The government has also said that there is no link between CAA, NPR and a proposed nationwide NRC.

A sudden increase in the demand for birth certificates has been reported from various minority-dominated areas of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Maharashtra, even as protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, and a proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) continue across the country.

Locals queue up at a municipal office in UP on Jan 9(Dheeraj Dhawan /HT Photo)
Locals queue up at a municipal office in UP on Jan 9(Dheeraj Dhawan /HT Photo)

Most states will start enrolment for National Population Register (NPR) from April 1, 2020, and the register will be updated by September, 2020. The government will seek the date and place of birth of a person and his or her parents in the 2020 exercise.

The central government, however, has clarified that no documents will be needed for registration under NPR and the entire exercise is based on “self declaration”. The government has also said that there is no link between CAA, NPR and a proposed nationwide NRC. It has also said that no Indian citizen will be affected by the CAA.

In Lucknow, the number of birth certificates issued in December 2019 (6,193) went up three times against a year ago. Ashok Singh, chief tax fixation officer of Lucknow Municipal Corporation,also the in-charge of the birth and death section, said: “There has been an increase in demand for birth certificates, especially among aged Muslims. Seeing the spurt, we have decided to issue the certificates at zonal level too.” He said 30% of the applicants were made by people above 40. Scenes were not very different at the municipal offices of Prayagraj, Varanasi, Meerut, Hapur and Bulandshahr.

“A large number of people in their 30s and 40s are coming for birth certificates,” said AK Jain, a clerk at the Prayagraj Municipal Corporation. Varanasi Swasthya Adhikari (city health officer), Ramshakal Yadav, said there were no instructions that a birth certificate was mandatory [for CAA, NPR or NRC] but still people are applying. Meerut city health officer, Gajendra Singh, said his office has seen a 40% spurt in applications for birth certificates from people between 10 and 60 years old.

The birth certificates are issued by urban and rural local bodies. Once the birth is registered, the certificate can be sought any time. If the registration is not done within one year of the birth, then one has to file an application with first magistrate, who is empowered to issue a direction to registrar of births to issue the certificate. Sarfaraz, who goes by only one name and is a resident of Agra, said: “I was born in 1968 and never felt the need for a birth certificate but now with CAA, NRC and NPR, I am following others and to prove my nationality, I will have to produce a birth certificate which I am going to get from Agra Nagar Nigam registration department.”

Akram Khan, 50, a businessman from the Kareli locality in Prayagraj, 15km from Lucknow, and his wife, Sadia Bano, 45, have visited the municipal office to get their birth certificates. “Born and brought up in Prayagraj, I decided to get birth certificates made for us following the talk that even citizens of India may need to prove their citizenship,” Akram said.

In many places, people are taking the help of lawyers to complete the formalities for getting birth certificates, especially if they were born at their homes.

Rafeeq Ansari, Samajwadi Party MLA from Meerut city, said that every day 400 to 500 people were approaching him to seek his letter required to apply for birth certificates. “Local MLAs and MPs are authorised to endorse residential proof of a person,” he said. Councillor of Katehar ward in Varanasi, Afzal Ansari said that ever since CAA came into focus, people were seeking birth certificates.

A similar rush is seen in Bihar. “An average of 4,000 people registered for birth certificates monthly between January and November 2019. In December, 2019, the figure was 6,600. Of these, 25% are in the age bracket of 40 to 50 years and are mainly from the Muslim community,” said district statistical officer, Patna, Mahesh Prasad, also the additional district registrar of births and deaths.

Maulana Rizwan Ahmad Islahi, who is the president of the Jamaete Islami Hind, Bihar, said: “People are worried over CAA, as it will increase their burden of documentation, but are not afraid or panicking in any manner.”

In West Bengal, the rush for birth certificates and other documents was witnessed between October and November 2019. After chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced in December that NPR and NRC will not be implemented in the state, fewer people have been queuing up for documents, officials said.

Malda legislator Mostak Alam said: “I have raised the issue in the state assembly and have written letters to the DM. It is mostly Muslims who have panicked.”

Maharashtra government officials said there has been a sudden demand of birth certificates in several Muslim-dominated areas such as Malegaon and Aurangabad. “We have opened additional offices to cater to the increase in demand,” a Maharashtra government official told PTI.

With inputs from bureaus in Lucknow/Pragyagraj/Varanasi/Meerut/Agra/Patna/Kolkata

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