Govt Says No Plan 'At Present' to Use NPR Data for NRC, Javadekar Ducks Question on Past Statements
The National Population Register, updation of which was cleared by the Narendra Modi cabinet on Tuesday, is a proposed database of 'usual residents' of the country.
File photo of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
New Delhi: Amid protests and concerns that the National Population Register (NPR) is the first step towards the creation of a contentious India-wide National Register of Citizens (NRC), Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday said there are no plans to link the NPR with the NRC.
“There is no link between National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), I am clearly stating this today,” news agency ANI quoted Shah as saying during an interview during which he also said there was no discussion yet in Parliament or cabinet on pan-India NRC.
Earlier, a note from the home ministry, too, had said that there was no plan “at present” to use the NPR data for NRC.
The NPR, updation of which was cleared by the Narendra Modi cabinet on Tuesday, is a proposed database of “usual residents” of the country. A "usual resident" is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past six months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next six months or more.
The NPR exercise is to be conducted between April and September 2020 in all states and union territories except Assam, where the NRC has already been implemented. The exercise will cost the exchequer Rs 3,941.35 crore, officials said.
Work on NPR had already started in some states but amid fears that it would be used to create an India-wide NRC and exclude Muslim citizens, West Bengal and Kerala have pumped the brakes.
Addressing a press meet after the cabinet meeting, union minister Prakash Javadekar had said that no documents or biometric details would be sought from people during the NPR registration.
"NPR will be conducted from April to September 2020. Enumerators will go house to house and also do a head count. This can also be done via app. NPR doesn't need any proof or document or biometric. What you say, we will believe you. It is based on self-declaration," the minister said.
Questioned by a reporter on NPR being used as the basis for NRC, Javadekar said the government had never sought to link the two. Pointed out that in 2014 then junior home minster Kiren Rijiju had told Parliament that the "government will create the NRC based on information from the NPR by verifying citizenship", Javadekar claimed the government had “never said, never meant it”.
The opposition, however, was quick to remind the government of the time its minsters had said that the NPR would be used for the NRC.
Tweeting a screenshot of the home ministry’s 2018 annual report, Congress leader Ajay Maken accused the government of lying. He pointed to page number 262 of the report, the highlighted portion of which said, “The NPR is the first step towards the creation of the NRIC under the provisions of the citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship Registration and issue of National Identity cards rule 2000."
Asked about the previous statements made by the government on NPR and NRC, home ministry officials said that the current position was as espoused by PM Narendra Modi during his Sunday speech at Ramlila Maidan. Launching BJP’s Delhi election campaign amid burning protests against NRC and Citizenship Amendment Bill, Modi had said there was no proposal regarding the NRC before the cabinet at the moment.
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