As protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) raged across the country, Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said a countrywide NRC had not been notified so far and no one should fear.
Mr. Reddy told The Hindu that “political parties and intellectuals should not put petrol in fire, instead they should douse the flames.”
Also read: Protest and order: on anti-CAA protests
The Minister asked students to read the CAA before protesting. “It is not against students, any region or people belonging to any religion… no one is being sent to detention centres. Political parties should behave responsibly. Cine actors also participating in protests, why are they doing so?” he said.
Ads in newspapers
The government published an advertisement in Hindi newspapers to dispel the myths around the CAA and the NRC. It said that “the NRC has not been announced yet and if it is done so in future, then rules and regulations should be such that no Indian citizen is troubled.”
Mr. Reddy said, “Violence was reported only in some rural areas of Lucknow. In Delhi , demonstrations were peaceful. The Northeast is also normal. Political parties and intellectuals should not instigate people on the lines of religion. Students do not know that the CAA is not against them.”
No discussion has been held yet on whether those excluded from Assam’s NRC would benefit from the CAA, he said. Around 19 lakh people in the State were excluded from the final register published on August 31, an exercise conducted to segregate Indian citizens living in Assam from those who had illegally entered the State from Bangladesh after March 24, 1971 on the basis of the Assam Accord signed by the Government of India in 1985.
Note on WhatsApp
A fact-check of the NRC released unofficially by the government and circulated on WhatsApp said that the process was “merely a normal process to register your name in the Citizens’ register.”
“Just like we present our identity cards or any other document for registering our names in the voter list or getting Aadhar card made, similar documents shall need to be provided for NRC, as and when it is carried out,” the unsigned note said.
“Citizenship can be proved by submitting any documents related to date and place of birth. However, a decision is yet to be taken on such acceptable documents. It is likely to include voter cards, passports, Aadhaar, licences, insurance papers, birth certificates, school-leaving certificates, documents relating to land or home or other similar documents issued by the government official,” the note said.
The CAA that allows citizenship on basis of religion to undocumented non-Muslim communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India on or before December 31, 2014 was passed by Parliament on December 11. There are apprehensions and fear that the Act, followed by a country-wide NRC will benefit non-Muslims excluded from the citizens’ register for not having proper documents, while excluded Muslims in similar circumstances will have to prove their citizenship.
To a question on what will happen to those who are homeless, poor, uneducated and do not have documents, the note said, “This is not entirely correct. Such people vote on some basis and they also get the benefit of the welfare schemes of the Government. Their identity will be established on the basis of that.”