Days after the Union Cabinet approved the Updation of the National Population Register (NPR), we have more controversy. The Congress Party today called the NPR, a conspiracy to impose an NRC on the people. The BJP is claiming that there is no link between the population register and the citizenship register.
But there are at least nine instances of ministers in the first Modi government linking NPR and the NRC and even calling it the "mother database" for creating the NRC. The Home Ministry's Annual Report for FY19 draws a direct link between the NPR and the NRC.
The other controversy is about the difference between the NPR which will be held next year and the one held 10 years ago. The 2010 NPR sought 15 data points from the citizens. The proposed 2020 NPR wants 21 data points.
Among the new data sought this time is the "date and place of birth of parents". Many fear this is being done to identify what is called a "doubtful" list of citizens who will be asked to prove their citizenship when a pan-India NRC is rolled out.
That apart, the new NPR also seeks Aadhaar number but this is voluntary. It also calls for mobile number, passport number, permanent account number, voter id number and driving licence number.
To discuss this Shereen Bhan spoke to Congress’s Spokesperson Aman Pawar, BJP’s spokesperson Gopal Krishna Agarwal and Nitin Sethi, journalist.
BJP’s Spokesperson Gopal Krishna Agarwal said, “NPR is a population register, anybody staying in India for more than 6 months has to register get himself register in the NPR whether he is a citizen or not is a secondary question. The purpose of NPR is improving the population register. Linking it to different issues and creating a false narration that this is all to do with the citizenship amendment bill or taking away their citizenship is completely wrong. If you are a citizen of India, you have nothing to fear.”
Congress’s spokesperson Aman Pawar said, “The annual report of 2018-2019 released by the Home Ministry itself says that the National Population Register (NPR) is the first step towards the creation of the national register of Indian citizens. So when Amit Shah’s own ministry is saying that NPR will be used to create NRC. Therefore the BJP spokesperson, the Home Ministry itself and the Prime Minister must not lie to the people of this country."
Nitin Sethi said, “Regardless of what anyone might state, NPR is an essential precursor to having an NRC. The core purpose of the NPR at this stage is to help the government generate the NRC. The government would have the sole discretion to mark out any citizens on the NPR, consider them doubtful for their citizenship, force her or him to then prove their credential to some petty officers' satisfaction. Is this a valid way to go ahead? We have proof before us that such exercises have led to harsh trouble for millions of people."