T.N. has sought clarifications on NPR questionnaire: Minister

February 21, 2020 01:06 am | Updated 01:06 am IST - CHENNAI

The Tamil Nadu government has sought clarifications from the Centre on three questions contained in the handbook for National Population Register (NPR), Revenue Minister R B Udhayakumar informed in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday. After failing to extract an assurance from the government that it would not implement the NPR in Tamil Nadu, the members of the DMK, Congress and IUML walked out of the House in protest. AIADMK MLA M Thamimum Ansari also staged a walkout.

Responding to concerns on the NPR raised by DMK president M K Stalin, the Minister conceded that there are some apprehensions among the people over three questions - 10, 13 and 14 contained in the handbook for enumerators. These questions seek details of the resident’s mother tongue, father, mother and spouse, their respective dates of birth, place of birth, and the resident’s Aadhaar number, mobile phone number, voter ID card number and driving license number, if any.

“In case they [residents] do not want to answer these questions, if the enumerator marks ‘doubtful’ against these columns, it would create apprehensions. We have sought clarifications from the Centre on how to deal with this during enumeration. We have not received any reply yet,” the Minister said.

Mr Udhayakumar, assisted with inputs by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, said that the details provided by a resident would be recorded without demanding any document. “For instance, if a resident declared himself as Indian national, the same would be recorded without seeking any proof,” he said.

However, Mr Stalin pointed out that the NPR handbook did not have Islamic festivals as options. This would affect Muslim respondents. Mr Udhayakumar said a clarification on this too had been sought from the Centre.

DMK Deputy Floor Leader Duraimurugan pointed out how family members of former President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and a Kargil veteran were excluded from the NRC in Assam. To this, Mr Udhayakumar claimed that the situation in Tamil Nadu was different.

When Mr. Stalin argued that the NPR was a precursor to the NRC and that the CAA and NRC were against Muslims, Tamils and the Constitution, the Minister accused the opposition to creating confusion on NPR and NRC with an “ulterior motive” and misleading Muslims for “vote bank” politics.

The Minister went on to say that had he been born a Muslim, he would have participated in the anti-CAA protests “misled” by the opposition parties.

Countering Mr Duraimurugan charged that the Minister was “belittling” the sentiments of Muslims.

However, Mr Udhayakumar said the NPR was brought by the erstwhile Congress-led UPA regime.

Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam joined said his party celebrated all religious festivals.

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