NEW DELHI: All states have issued re-notification of the National Population Register (NPR), while Kerala and West Bengal have communicated to the Centre to put NPR on hold, government sources said on Wednesday.
“We have received the communication from West Bengal and Kerala. Both the states and others also had notified the exercise last year. They have not cancelled it, they have requested to put it on hold,” a senior Home Ministry official said.
On July 31, 2019, the government had, through a notification in the official gazette, set the ball rolling for the NPR.
Barring Assam, the notification called for the preparation of NPR in the entire country between April 2020 and September 2020.
While all states have re-notified NPR, states and two UTs are yet to inform the Centre as to when will they conduct the exercise, this newspaper has learnt.
Despite notifying the exercise, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Ladakh and Puducherry are yet to convey the dates to the Registrar General of India (RGI) to collect NPR data, which is to begin from April 1 along with the Census exercise.
According to rules, NPR is to be conducted in 45 days between April and September but states and UTs have to notify the dates to RGI by March.
The governments of West Bengal and Kerala, which have said they won’t allow NPR in their state citing its linkage with NRC, wrote to the district census commissioner, who forwarded the request to the Registrar General of India, saying data collection for updating NPR should be halted on account of maintenance of ‘public order’.
The chief ministers of both the states have been vehemently opposing the NPR exercise, which according to Citizenship Rules 2003 and several other statements given by the Centre in Parliament, is the first step towards conducting NRC.
In accordance with the Centre’s July 31 notification, all states and UTs re-notified preparation of NPR. This was done by them much before the government brought the Citizenship Amendment Act in December.
The government has clarified that there was no proposal to compile NRC as of now. Critics say NPR, alongside the NRC and CAA, will lead to the mass exclusion of Indians, particularly Muslim citizens.
In December, PM Narendra Modi said his government had never considered implementing nation-wide NRC. But the NRC was part of President’s address in Parliament in June and was promised by Home Minister Amit Shah several times in Parliament and outside.
Opposition leaders vow support to CAA stir
Opposition parties on Wednesday pledged their support to social activists Sadaf Jafar, Pawan Rao Ambedkar, Deepak Kabir and former IGP of Uttar Pradesh SR Darapuri, who were arrested by the UP police during anti-CAA protests.
At a press conference, the four persons narrated their ‘torture’ at the hands of police. The opposition assured them their movement won’t be allowed to die down.
“Protecting the Constitution is the highest form of patriotism... These people were kept in jail without a shred of evidence,” Sitaram Yechury said.
Assam Accord: MHA panel gets one-month extension
Amid continued unrest over the CAA, the Home Ministry on Wednesday gave one more month to a high-level committee to submit its report on assessing the quantum of seats to be reserved in the Assam Assembly and local bodies for the Assamese people.
The committee was formed in July last year under the chairmanship of Justice (retd.) Biplab Kumar Sarma.
It was asked to give its report within six months of its constitution, i.e. by January 15. The Home Ministry has issued an order modifying the six-month time limit to seven months now.