The government on Tuesday assured people that updating the National Population Register (NPR) is not linked to the controversial National Register of Citizens (NRC) in any way. Union Home Minister Amit Shah stressed on the fact that NPR is a database for policy while NRC is the process where people are asked to prove citizenship.
While Shah dispelled reports pointing at an NPR-NRC link, the ruling government had linked NRC and NPR several times in the past; it is also mentioned in an earlier official notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Here is proof:
The fact that NPR is the first step towards conducting a nationwide NRC is mentioned in the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 under the Citizenship Act 1955.
According to a Ministry of Home Affairs notification on Citizenship Rules of 2003, The local Register of Indian citizens shall contain details of persons after due verification made from the Population Register.
The government has also told several times that NRC is one of the steps pertaining to conducting a nationwide NRC.
The first instance where the government has linked NRC with NPR is the official law related to NPR.
What is NPR? The NPR is a register of the usual residents of the country. It contains information collected at the local (village/sub-town), subdistrict, district, state and national level under provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003
- MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS Notification | December 10, 2003
Under the Citizenship Rules notification by MHA, it is clearly stated: "The Central Government may, by an order issued in this regard, decide a date by which the Population Register shall be prepared by collecting information relating to all persons who are usually residing within the jurisdiction of Local Registrar."
"The Local Register of Indian citizens shall contain details of persons after due verification made from the Population Register," it adds.
The government notification then goes on to suggest that the preparation and inclusion of individuals in the Local Register of India Citizens will be conducted on the basis of details collected from each family and individual in the Population Register after due verification and scrutiny by the Local Registrar.
"For the purposes of preparation and inclusion in the Local Register of Indian Citizens, the particulars collected of every family and individual in the Population Register shall be verified and scrutinized by the Local Registrar, who may be assisted by one or more persons as specified by the Registrar General of Citizen Registration," stated the MHA notification.
Meanwhile, the 2018-19 annual report of the MHA also suggests that NRC can be conducted on the basis of NPR data.
National Population Register (NPR) is the first step towards the creation of the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) under the provisions of the aforementioned Statute
- Chapter 15 of MHA's Annual Report 2018-19
Now, that's what the government stated in its notifications about NPR and NRC. Several opposition leaders have also dug out instances where government representatives had clearly related NPR and NRC.
Congress party was quick to point out on Tuesday that former Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju had specifically stated in 2014 while replying to a question in Rajya Sabha that the creation of NPR was undertaken as per the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
"The demographic data for NPR has already been collected for the entire country in 2010 and also digitized thereby creating an electronic database of 118 crore persons. The government has now decided to create the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) based on the information collected under the scheme of NPR by verifying the citizenship status of all individuals in the country," Rijiju said in a written statement in 2014.
This statement by Rijiju was not a one-off incident. He linked NRC and NPR many times in Rajya Sabha and on November 29, 2014, he clearly stated that NPR is the first step towards the creation of NRIC by verifying the citizenship status of every usual resident.
But on Tuesday when Amit Shah spoke in detail about NPR, he said there is no point in discussing NRC at the moment. He also went on to say that such topics have neither been discussed by the Union Cabinet nor in Parliament.
On NPR, Shah said that it has been done previously and it is just a process aimed at delivering specific government schemes to targeted beneficiaries. He also went on to say that NPR was a process started by the previous UPA government.