NEW DELHI: Echoing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s position that there has been no discussion on a nationwide National Register of Citizens, the government on Tuesday told the Lok Sabha that “till now, the government has not taken any decision to prepare NRC at the national level.”
In a written reply, junior home minister Nityanand Rai told Nageswara Rao of the TRS that the question about a timeline for implementation of the NRC in the country and taking state governments into confidence for the purpose “does not arise”.
Addressing a rally in Delhi in December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said, “I want to tell the 130 crore citizens of India that ever since my government came to power, there has been no discussion on NRC anywhere. Only after the SC order, this exercise was done for Assam. Lies are being spread. When NRC was being formulated, the Congress was in power. Was the Congress sleeping then? We haven’t made this law (NRC), it has not come in Parliament, nor the Cabinet, nor have any rules been formulated.”
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has in the past stated in Parliament and outside that NRC will be carried out across the country.
More than a dozen questions were posed to the Union home ministry on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), NRC and NPR, which triggered countrywide protests.
The ministry also told Parliament that no specific detention centre is being built in Assam to house those who don’t have documents to prove their citizenship under the NRC in the state.
‘CAA & NRC will target Muslims and poor citizens’
Critics fear the combined effect of the Act and implementation of NPR and NRC would target Muslims and poor citizens, many of whom may not be able to provide the required documents.
According to the CAA, non-Muslims — Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
In Assam, over 19 lakh were left out of the final NRC, published in August 2019. These people will have to approach the tribunals set up under the Foreigners’ (Tribunals) Order 1964 to prove their citizenship.
On the National Population Register (NPR) exercise, the government reiterated that no document will be collected during the updation of NPR and providing Aadhaar number during the exercise is only voluntary.
“No document is to be collected during the updation of NPR,” he said replying a written question,” Rai said on NPR, which is expected to be carried out from April alongside Census 2021.
The government is 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.
Several states like Kerala and West Bengal have announced will implement the census exercise but will not cooperate with the NPR.
Rai also said an instruction manual for updation of NPR 2020 for enumerators and supervisors has been prepared and the people will have to provide information for the NPR to the best of their knowledge and belief.