Delhi Assembly calls Amit Shah’s bluff, passes resolution against NPR & NRIC

Household survey to collect data for NPR begins on April 1. Though Amit Shah now claims there is no plan to have National Register of Indian Citizens, the Citizenship Act says NPR is first step to NRC

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal (Photo courtesy: Twitter)
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal (Photo courtesy: Twitter)

NH Web Desk

The day after Home Minister Amit Shah tried to dispel doubts in Parliament over the National Population Register (NPR), Delhi Assembly on Friday adopted a resolution against NPR and the NRIC.

At the one-day special session, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal requested the Centre to withdraw NPR and the NRIC.

"I, my wife, my entire cabinet don't have birth certificates to prove citizenship. Will we be sent to detention centres?" he asked. The chief minister challenged Union ministers to show whether they had birth certificates issued by the government.

In the Assembly, Kejriwal asked the MLAs to raise their hands if they had birth certificates, following which only nine legislators in the 70-member House raised their hands.

Several states have already opposed NPR. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana this month took a U-turn this month and voiced their reservations on NPR and NRIC. Even Tamil Nadu this month put the NPR on hold.

Earlier Bihar Assembly had passed a resolution opposing NRIC and endorsing NPR based on the 2010 questionnaire. Odisha claims to have been assured by

the Centre that NPR would not demand from people to know the date and place of birth of their parents.

States like Punjab, Kerala, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have also opposed the NPR.

The Citizenship Act, as amended in 2003, explicitly declares that NPR is the first step to NRC and empowers enumerators to declare people giving unsatisfactory answers as ‘ Doubtful’ citizens. It also provides for fines if people refuse to answer the questions.

While the first NPR, described as a register of usual residents, was carried out in 2010, there was no talk of NRIC then and there was no Aadhaar available at the time. Introduction of Aadhaar and the NRC exercise conducted in Assam, which has excluded 1.9 million people from the Register of Citizens, have triggered fears that the Government wants to identify and then systematically disenfranchise and disempower citizens based on their religion.

Amit Shah himself contributed to this misgiving by repeatedly claiming that people should understand the chronology; that CAA would come first and will be followed by NPR and a nationwide NRC.

Experts and activists describe NPR as a weapon of mass surveillance and object to the exercise in the absence of an appropriate and comprehensive data-protection law against misuse and persecution.

But while the Home Minister has been repeatedly saying of late that nobody would be declared ‘ Doubtful’ on the basis of the NPR exercise, he has not adopted the simple expedient of denotifying the relevant clauses from the Citizenship Act of 2003.

"I'm saying this on the floor of the House; no one will be marked as a doubtful (D) citizen, " Shah declared in Parliament.

The NPR is part of the *Citizenship* Rules of 2003, passed under the *Citizenship* Act of 1955. Quite apart from Rule 4, which makes the link between NPR and NRC explicit, if you take away the citizenship-verifying aspect, the NPR is meaningless.

Rule 4, Citizenship Rules 2003 states: "During the verification process, particulars of such individuals, whose Citizenship is *doubtful*, shall be entered by the Local Registrar with an appropriate remark in the Population Register for further enquiry..."

The NPR manual also requires wide publicity so that people keep documents ready for enumerators. The rules clearly say that NPR is meant only for NRC. And those enumerated in NPR can be marked as doubtful.

So, if the Government is not pursuing NRIC, then why is it pursuing the NPR and with additional questions?

The following video is instructive:

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