Confusion prevailed after images of forms of ‘National Population Register (NPR) 2020’ seeking details on “place of birth of father and mother” started doing the rounds on social media, even though Home Minister Amit Shah clarified a day ago that there was “no link between NPR and NRC.”
A Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) spokesperson told The Hindu that the form or the schedule to collect data for the NPR has not been finalised yet.
Congress leader Manish Tewari tweeted an image of ‘NPR-2020’ saying that “NPR will be raw Data of NRC.” “HM @AmitShah says NPR is register of population, NRC is register of citizens. if that is so how is it relevant to ask whether my parents were born in India or abroad? See encircled red box. Nothing but elements of NRC being smuggled into NPR. NPR will be raw Data of NRC,” Mr. Tewari said.
The NPR exercise conducted first in 2010 and subsequently updated in 2015 collected details on the following 15 parameters — name of person, relationship to head of household, father’s name, mother’s name, spouse’s name (if married), sex, date of birth, marital status, place of birth, Nationality (as declared), present address of usual residence, duration of stay at present address, permanent residential address, occupation/activity and educational qualification.
A “pretest” form that was used to collect data from 30 lakh people in September this year sought details on additional columns like “place of birth of father and mother, last place of residence” along with details like Aadhaar number, voter ID card number, mobile phone number and driving licence number.
A senior government official said the pretest form is used during the trial stage and the final schedule is prepared after taking the feedback from the respondents.
“This form seeking details like place of birth of father and mother was used in the trial stage in September. Before we take the final exercise next year, we need to train the enumerators and also seek feedback from those surveyed. On this basis we will decide the contents of the final NPR form,” said the official.
Congress leader Ajay Maken who was Minister of State for Home when the data for NPR was first collated in 2010 tweeted the images of the 2010 form and the one used in September to say, “As MOS Home in 2010,I supervised the NPR! But Modi-Shah 2020 NPR is Totally Different. Please see 2010&2020 NPR Forms. 2020 Version adds: 1)Date&Place of Birth of Parents 2)Last Place of Residence 3)Aadhaar ID 4)Driving Licence No. 5)Voter ID 6)Mobile No. Thus, NPR2020=NRC!!”
The Citizenship Rules, 2003 , also state clearly that the Centre, by issuing an order, can decide a date to prepare the NPR and also provide for the creation of NRC that will flow from data gathered in the NPR. According to the Rules, a person’s citizenship status will be decided by local officials – whether or not the person will figure in the NRIC or not. No new law or rules are needed to conduct this exercise across the country.
The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved ₹3941.35 crore for updating the NPR that would be collated along with the House Listing and Housing Census of the decennial exercise from April to September 2020.
The government has informed Parliament on multiple occasions since 2014 that the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) or NRC will be created based on the information collected under NPR by verifying the citizenship status of all individuals in the country.
On June 18, 2014 a tweet posted from the verified handle of Press Information Bureau had said “Shri Rajnath Singh directed to take NPR project to its logical conclusion which is creation of National Register of Indian Citizens.”
Mr. Singh was the Union Home Minister in the previous Modi government. The government has also claimed that the NPR was created to extend various beneficiary schemes to people as the data collected under the Census exercise cannot be shared with States or any other government agency.
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed in a rally on Sunday that there was no discussion on NRC, the government approved a separate budget for NPR on Tuesday sparking panic. Opposition parties said the NPR was the first step to NRC. Mr. Shah in a hurriedly arranged interview to news agency Asian News International (ANI) said that information obtained through NPR could not be used for NRC and that the Union Cabinet had not ever discussed NRC.
On December 9, during a debate on the Citizenship Amendment Act in the Lok Sabha, Mr. Shah said that “there is no need to create a background for NRC” as they were clear that “NRC ought to be done in this country and our (BJP) manifesto is the background.”
Since the CAA was passed by Parliament on December 11, widespread protests have taken place against the Act and the NRC and more than 20 people killed in Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Karnataka. The CAA allows citizenship on the basis of religion to undocumented non-Muslim communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India on or before December 31, 2014. There are apprehensions and fear that the Act followed by a country-wide NRC will benefit non-Muslims excluded from the citizens’ register, while excluded Muslims will have to prove their citizenship. The government has said CAA and NRC are not linked .