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videos | IST

Experts discuss government's plan to update NPR in 2020

The union cabinet has paved the way to update the National Population Register (NPR) in 2020. The exercise aims to identify who are the "usual residents" and it will take place between April to September. This will be followed by a census in 2021. The cost of both the NPR and the census combined will be Rs 13,000 crore.

The union cabinet has paved the way to update the National Population Register (NPR) in 2020. The exercise aims to identify who are the "usual residents" and it will take place between April to September. This will be followed by a census in 2021. The cost of both the NPR and the census combined will be Rs 13,000 crore.
The government has termed this a routine process and claimed that no documentary proof will be needed as this will be done through self-certification.
The government also claimed that no biometrics data will be collected. All this comes at a time when many fear that the NPR could set the stage for all all-India National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Shereen Bhan of CNBC-TV18 caught up with Gautam Bhatia, Supreme Court (SC) lawyer, Praveen Swami, group consulting editor at Network18, Sanjay Jha, Congress spokesperson and Yogendra Yadav, national president at Swaraj India to discuss this threadbare.
“Until now the NPR did not require you to list your parents' place and date of birth. That is something new that has come in as per the Indian Express report a couple of days ago. The significance of that new requirement is that under the citizenship amendment act of 2003 if you are born after 1987 then you are an Indian citizen only if at least one of your parents is also a citizen. So you can see a clear overlap between citizenship requirement and this new NPR requirement as well. I think that overlap is too coincidental to be dismissed as simply a matter of chance. There is a clear link between the NPR and the future NRC,” said Gautam Bhatia.
“The NRC was only meant to be done in Assam as per SC directives. The reason why the protests have risen and apprehensions are now at a very stratospheric level and it is a very legitimate protest is that today the fear is that the NPR data which will even capture religion, will, therefore, become probably a prelude to the NRC all over the country. The question that needs to be asked is what the linkage between NPR and the NRC and that is where several states are begun to express their angst and say that we will not even allow the NPR to come in even before the NRC because they believe it will be a tool, which the government will use thereafter to target citizens belonging to a certain minority community,” Sanjay Jha added.
Sharing his views on the same, Yogendra Yadav further mentioned, “If the government had come out open, if the government was transparent then, of course, it would have given some relief but unfortunately that is not what the government has done. NPR is a regular exercise and in the absence of the overall climate that we have today, NPR would have been seen as a routine exercise. However there are two important things, one in the context of a possible NRC, second, a new clause has been inserted in NPR, which requires you to reveal something which can only be relevant for purposes of possible NRC. That gives rise to a legitimate apprehension that NPR would include by the back door an NRC as well.”
“The NPR does involve door-to-door enumeration of who lives in the house and what their antecedents are. But then the NRC stage and the 2003 citizenship rules are crystal clear about this, they will use the NPR data to conduct the citizenship exercise. Over there, somebody called a local registrar of citizens who is basically a tehsil level official will look at this mass of data and then decide whether you are a genuine citizen or not on the basis of criteria which are not laid out in those rules. So basically make a determination on some basis. This is where a lot of problems arise,” Praveen Swami explained.