HYDERABAD: The confusions and contradictions surrounding the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR) is, more or less, engineered, says Hyderabad MP and AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi.
In a chat with Express, he said that the BJP was deliberately trying to confuse people on the matter of NRC-NPR by making contradictory statements. He, however, adds, “The BJP is tying itself into a knot it won’t be able to free itself from.”
The MIM chief also claimed that a motion of privilege could be put forth against Union Home Minister Amit Shah for allegedly misleading the Parliament on the issue of NRC.
You have made your stance regarding the CAA and NRC clear. What is the basis of your objection to the legislation?
I have always opposed the CAA and NRC. I tore the copy of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in the Parliament because it is unconstitutional and doesn’t satisfy Article 14’s test of reasonable classification.
What is your take on the issue of illegal immigration in the country? How should the government tackle it?
We do not want any illegal immigrants to enter our country. That has to be stopped. Why should anyone be permitted to enter without valid documents? The government should stop them. But if they are allowed entry, they should be given the refugee status. The UNHCR gives refugees a card proving this status. Why don’t we, as a country, sign the UNHCR’s refugee convention?
In that case, why is NRC — that aims at weeding out illegal immigration — considered a problem?
Who decides whether I am a citizen of this country or not? It is necessary to examine the example of the NRC in Assam. Before the final list of the NRC was published, it was being said that there are 50 lakh illegal immigrants. The former governor of Assam SK Sinha had said that the influx was changing the demography of Assam. However, when the final list was published, there were only 19 lakh people on it. Out of this, 5 lakh are Muslims. It is a complete failure. Nobody is asking the government to stop illegal migrants from entering the country. But, the government is making a law on the basis of religion.
The NPR has been in force for quite some time now. Why is an issue being raised now?
In the current NPR, they are verifying the citizenship. They are demanding your Aadhaar details, passport, mobile number, and father’s date and place of birth. In the earlier version of NPR, this was not the case.
Could you elaborate on the link between the NPR and NCR?
The NPR is the first step towards the NRC. Officials would verify your details. They would decide in their esteemed wisdom. And if it deems so, you would become a ‘doubtful citizen’. Then, you would have to produce documents. A local registrar list would be posted. Anyone can object to it. Even after that, if your name is not on the list, the NRC will be put to effect. I want to ask the government: Who are you to decide my citizenship? Why are you forcing the whole country to stand in the line?
You have presented several documents to prove the link between the NRC and NPR. It contradicts the Centre’s recent statement. Do you plan to approach the court regarding this?
A petition under my name against the CAA has already been filed in the Supreme Court. The advocate Nizam Pasha has mentioned the issue of NRC in the PIL. I am sure he will talk about the NPR in January, which is when the court would hear the PIL.
BJP has termed your comments against the CAA/NRC/NPR as ‘ill-informed’ and has accused you of ‘fearmongering’. How do you respond to that?
How am I indulging in fearmongering when I am producing proofs from their own Annual Report, published on their own website? In fact, it is the BJP, who is indulging in contradictions and fearmongering.
Several versions of the link between the NRC and NPR are emerging from within the BJP itself. What is your take on that?
The BJP has perfected the art of deception — from the prime minister and home minister to its MPs. They think they can fool people by making confusing and contradictory statements. There is Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar claiming that one needn’t worry if one had an Aadhaar. But the Aadhaar is not a proof of citizenship. This is a deliberate attempt to confuse people. However, they don’t realise the fact that they are tying themselves into so many knots —ones that are difficult to get out of.
You have pointed out that Home Minister Amit Shah had misled the Parliament. Could you elucidate?
While speaking in the Parliament, we have what we call a ‘collective responsibility’. Now, he (Shah) speaks on behalf of his own government. So, if the Prime Minister is claiming Amit Shah’s statement is false, does that mean that Amit Shah misled the Parliament? If he has, then the members should serve a privilege notice on him. Shah stood up in the Parliament and said, ‘Mr Owaisi, we will bring the NRC’. Later, the PM said that no discussions were done on the matter. This is contradictory. The PM should come out and say: what my Home Minister said was a complete lie.
Did your intention to contest the West Bengal elections stop you from taking TMC’s name while lauding the states that stayed NPR works?
I had given the example of Kerala because its government had passed an official order that was available. The one by West Bengal government, meanwhile, was not. Also, I will definitely contest from West Bengal. What is wrong with that?