Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions on NPR and NRIC
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions, raised by apologists of the government and public servants and some by members of the civil society. Gurdeep Singh Sappal replies
The Government has created considerable confusion on the National Population Register and a countrywide National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) by its flip flops inside and outside the Parliament. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions, some raised by apologists of the government and public servants and some by puzzled members of the civil society.
NPR was conducted in 2010-11 also, why is it being opposed now?
It is true that NPR was conducted in 2011 and no papers were asked even then. But the similarities end here. This time additional data will be collected for NPR, which includes the date of birth and place of birth of parents.
This information is the real linkage with prospective NRC, whenever the government decides to make it. As per current Citizenship Act, which was amended in 2003 also, there are three different conditions for citizenship by birth.
a. For people born between 1950 and 1987, it is enough to be born in India to qualify as Indian citizen.
b. For people born between 1987 and 2003, apart from being born in India, one of the parents must also be an Indian citizen.
c. For people born after 1987, apart from being born in India, BOTH parents must also be Indian citizens and one MUST NOT be an illegal migrant.
Many people don’t know the exact date of birth and place of birth of their parents. If the persons born after 1987 and before 2003 are not able to give the exact date and place of birth of at least one parent, their name will be marked in doubtful category.
Similarly, if the exact date and place of birth of BOTH parents of persons born after 2003 are not given in NPR, they will also be marked as doubtful citizens. This is as per the Rule 4(4) of the Citizenship Rules, 2003.
Later, whenever the government decides to notify NRC, these names will have to go through mandatory scrutiny and will pass the citizenship test only if they are able to convince the Sub-Registrar or Taluk Registrar.
There is no categorical official denial by the government yet that such entries in NPR will never be placed in the doubtful category of NRC. Therefore, it is being
How many people will be able to provide exact date and place of birth of parents?
There is no exact database, which gives us the number of people in India, who don’t know the real date and place of birth of parents, which can later also be verified from documents.
One indicator is the accounts opened under the Jan Dhan Yojna. The Prime Minister often takes pride in the ostensibly great success of this scheme, under which over 37.66 crore accounts have been opened so far.
These accounts are generally opened for persons who have no papers required to open the bank account and can be opened by submitting just two photographs, along with MNREGA number, which again is not mandatory. It indicates that nearly 37 crore people did not have the necessary papers at the time of opening these accounts. How will they provide the exact date and place of birth of their parents?
Added to this is another category of people who have the papers for themselves but don’t know the place and date of birth of their parents. The number of such people is anyone’s guess. So, it is a wrong assumption that only Muslim community will be harassed during the NPR/ NRC process.
Can anyone object to any other person’s citizenship under NPR/NRC?
Yes. As per the rule 6(a) and 6(c), once the draft list of local register is published, objections will be invited from public against any entry or for inclusion of any name. This means, any random person can object to the inclusion of name of anyone in citizenship register.
What it means is that disgruntled neighbours, political opponents, ideological adversaries, people fighting property cases against relatives, office rivals, just to name a few, can object to the inclusion of anyone’s name just out of rivalry or spite. And then that person’s name will go into the doubtful category, her/his citizenship will be verified separately. Their fate will then be subject to the satisfaction of Sub-Registrar or Taluka Registrar.
In Assam, there were 2.5 lakh people, who had submitted all the documents, but were moved into the doubtful category because someone had objected to their name. Imagine the mayhem and anarchy in the society when such a tool of harassment is made operative as per the procedure already prescribed in the Citizenship
Rules, 2003. Is there really a need for it?
What is the problem in giving mobile number, Aadhar, Passport, voter card details in NPR , when we already give this data for other government purposes?
Let’s examine the database that the government will have a result of the additional information asked in NPR 2020.It will have the name of the person, her/his mobile number, exact address, voter card number, Aadhar number. This entire data will be of very high authenticity and verified by enumerators going door to door. The possibilities of misuse of such database are immense.
We all know the Cambridge Analytica case. They used the information regarding interests and political thoughts of social media users for targeted political messaging. The NPR database goes much beyond that. First of all, this database is not just of social media users, it comprises of every single citizen of India. The person sitting at a computer knows exactly the name, address, mobile number, voter card number, Aadhar number of any person living in India. So targeted political messaging down to house level, gali/mohalla/village level is possible on their verified mobile phones.
Also, Aadhar details provide exact details of the beneficiaries of government schemes, along with their voter card number and address. This can be illegally misused to potentially segregate people at any geographical level, using their voter card details and on the basis of their caste, religion or beneficiary status, just with a click of the mouse.
Large scale elimination of voters from voter lists by political opponents is not unknown in our country. This database has the potential for scientific rigging of voterlist at an unprecedented level.
Giving Aadhaar number is optional in NPR, so there should not be any controversy on it
It is true that it is not mandatory to provide Aadhaar number in NPR. But it is only a glass half full. The current status is that while people would have an option to submit Aadhaar details or refuse it, the Registrar General of India would ask the Aadhar agency (i.e. UIDAI) to verify the biometrics of citizens to include in the NPR. So, at the backend, NPR will anyhow be linked with Aadhaar.
Will Aadhaar details remain confidential after seeding them in NPR?
The Supreme Court’s Five Judge Bench verdict on Aadhar had revoked Section 33(2) of Aadhar Act. This section allowed sharing of data with security agencies on the ground of national security. Supreme Court had said that it would be a breach of privacy. But now biometric data of Aadhaar will be used to verify the data in NPR. This data will be shared with Sub-Registrar and Taluka Registrar. How will the privacy of data be ensured when they are shared with the lowest tier of the Indian bureaucracy?
Is it not a violation of Supreme Court’s judgement, which disallowed the sharing of data even for national security purposes?
What was the need for asking additional information in NPR 2020
NPR was conducted smoothly and without any controversy in 2011.
NPR 2020 asks for additional information, which is date of birth and birthplace of parents, last address, PAN Number, Aadhaar Number (optional), Voter Card Number, Driving Licence, Mobile Number.
The government has given no answer why it is asking for additional information in NPR 2020