In a major boost to the civil rights movement in West Bengal, the State government withdrew activities related to the National Population Register (NPR) on Monday. The notice issued by the Census Cell of the Home and Hill Affairs Department automatically revokes an earlier order when the government departments were instructed to list the names of junior officials to compile the NPR.
Civil rights activists welcomed the government’s decision, underscoring that the NPR has “nothing to do” with the usual Census process in 2021.
Monday’s order, with a subject line “Stay on NPR process”, noted that “all activities regarding the preparation and upgrade of the NPR was “stayed” in the State. “No activity regarding NPR may be taken up without prior clearance” from the government, the order noted.
The Association For Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), which with other organisations carried on an anti-NPR campaign in the State against the government, welcomed the order.
APDR member Ranjit Sur described the NPR as the “first step to initiate the National Register of Citizens [NRC]” in the State.
“In the NPR it was stated that doubtful citizens will be identified but it was never indicated what makes a person a doubtful citizen, which was our first objection,” Mr. Sur said.
BJP criticises decision
BJP’s State president Dilip Ghosh questioned the State government’s move.
“The fact that she [Mamata Banerjee] is trying to prevent it means how important the exercise was for West Bengal,” he said.