Union Home Minister Amit Shah denied that there was any link between the National Population Register and the National Register of Citizens, amidst protests. Amit Shah’s comments came soon after the Union Cabinet approved Rs 3,941.35 as funding for the National Population Register, and Rs 8,754.23 crore as funding for the 2021 Census.
“There is no link between the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), I am clearly stating this today,” Amit Shah told ANI.
Amit Shah’s denial comes at a time when there are protests across the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the NRC. The NPR is widely considered to be the first step to the NRC, with the government expressly linking the two earlier.
During its previous term, multiple answers given by the government in the Lok Sabha linked the NPR and the NRIC (National Register of Indian Citizens). For example, an answer given by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2014 said, “The scheme of NPR has been reviewed and it has been decided that NPR should be completed and taken to its logical conclusion, which is the creation of NRIC by verification of citizenship status of every usual residents in the NPR”.
The annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs for 2018-19 states: Government of India has approved a scheme of creation of National Population Register (NPR) in the country by collecting specific information of all usual residents. NPR is the first step towards creation of National Register of Indian Citizen (NRIC). The demographic data for NPR collected in 2010 has been updated in 2015.
In his interview to ANI, Amit Shah had further stated: “NPR is the database on which policy is made. NRC is a process in which people are asked to prove their citizenship. There is no connection between the two processes, nor can they be used in each other’s survey. NPR data can never be used for NRC. Even the laws are different…I assure all the people, specially from the minorities, that NPR is not going to be used for NRC. It’s a rumour.”
Furthermore, the Home Minister added that there is no need to debate a pan-India NRC at the moment.
“PM Modi was right, there is no discussion on it yet either in the Cabinet or Parliament,” he told ANI.
Shah’s comments came just two days after PM Modi declared that there had been no discussion on NRC, raising eyebrows.
The BJP, in a tweet that has since been deleted amidst anti-CAA protests, had attributed a quote to Amit Shah that they will implement NRC across the country. The BJP’s manifesto had also said that the NRC would be taken to different parts of the country.
“I want to tell you that before the 2024 polls the NRC will be conducted across the country and each and every infiltrator identified and expelled,” Amit Shah said in an election rally earlier this month.
When questioned by ANI about the governments of Kerala and West Bengal staying all activities pertaining to the updation of NPR, Amit Shah urged the respective chief ministers to rethink their stance.
“I urge the chief ministers of both the states that they re-think their stance on this because it will help in building policies for their states. We issued a notification on 21/7/2019 and almost all states have notified it. I don’t want the poor in West Bengal and Kerala to be deprived of the benefit that the NPR can bring to them. This process is not happening today. There is a law to hold this process every ten years,” he said.
In a response to questions about the use of police force in the protests, Shah downplayed the incidents and said that there were one or two incidents of police entering ICU while chasing protesters.
“The training of police forces to make them sensitive is a continuous process, but (during protests) when a bus or a shop is set on fire, what about the lives of people who are inside them. Stage of firing comes when someone’s life is in danger. If he does not do so, he fails in his duty,” he said.
The Congress on Tuesday alleged that the government was trying to link the National Population Register with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and termed it draconian and against the secular credentials of the Constitution.
Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement that there is no link between the NPR and the NRC is a “bigger lie” than what the prime minister had said at the Ramlila ground on Sunday, Congress senior spokesperson Ajay Maken said.
Source: The News Minute