NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday clarified that disclosing information under the National Population Register (NPR) is voluntary and not mandatory.
The clarification came from Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy who also said that the Centre will keep sensitising states over NPR, which along with CAA-NRC, has caused countrywide protests.
The clarification comes at a time when several states, including Kerala and West Bengal, have opposed NPR, saying it is a prelude to a countrywide NRC.
Speaking to journalists, Reddy said, “Disclosure of information in NPR is voluntary only,” said Reddy, adding NPR is a constitutional obligation and state governments should not oppose it. He pointed out that NPR was first initiated by the Congress-led UPA in 2010 and it is a constitutional obligation.
The minister also said the central government will keep sensitising states about various aspects of the NPR exercise that will be carried out along with the house-listing phase of the Census 2021 from April 1 to September 30, 2020.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has appealed to her counterparts in the Northeast and non-BJP states to carefully study the NPR form, its questions and criteria before taking a decision on updating it. The Kerala government has announced that it will implement the census exercise but will not cooperate on NPR.
The NPR exercise conducted in 2010 and updated in 2015 collected details on 14 parameters, but the upcoming NPR will seek details more parameters, which includes some new columns, seeking details on mother’s tongue, ‘place of birth of parents’, and last place of residence’ along with other information like Aadhaar (optional), voter ID card, passport, mobile phone and driving licence numbers.
The government on Tuesday also asserted that census data is confidential and guaranteed under the law and those violating it will be punished. In a series of tweets, the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India (RGI) said 2021 would be the first-ever census to be conducted with a mixed-mode approach — a mobile app (created in-house by RGI office).
“While confidentiality about your data is guaranteed by Census Act, 1948, the same law specifies a penalty for both public and census officials for non-compliance or violation of any provision of the Act,” the RGI said.