Parl replies, MHA report contradict Govt NPR-NRC delink

Parl replies, MHA report contradict Govt NPR-NRC delink

Along with the annual report, replies to questions by the MHA and Shah's assertion on NRC  in Parliament as well as during recent Jharkhand election campaign fly on the face of the claims of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that there was no discussion about a nationwide NRC in the government.

As government attempted to delink two controversial actions that has invited countrywide protests, the latest annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) puts it in black and white that the National Population Register (NPR) is the "first step towards creation" of a National Register of Citizens (NRC).

This assertion came in the MHA Annual Report 2018-19, which was put in public domain a couple of months ago, even as Home Minister Amit Shah and Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday insisted that there is no link between both the exercises.

Along with the annual report, replies to questions by the MHA and Shah's assertion on NRC  in Parliament as well as during recent Jharkhand election campaign fly on the face of the claims of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that there was no discussion about a nationwide NRC in the government.

The Annual Report 2018-19 said the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India also discharges the statutory function of the Registrar General of Citizens Registration under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. "The 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," it said.

While Shah was quoted by ANI on Tuesday as saying that “there is no link between NRC and NPR. I am clearly stating this today”, at least two replies in Rajya Sabha from July and November 2014 and the 2018-19 annual report showed that the government has been viewing the two exercises in tandem.

Earlier during a press conference on Cabinet decisions, including the nod for Census and NPR, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said that "NPR has nothing to do with NRC" and "we have never said that NPR will be used as NRC. How much confusion will you create?"

When he was confronted with the answer given by then Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju in Rajya Sabha on 23 July, 2014 to which he first said, "I completely deny." Rijiju had then said, "the government has now decided to create the NRC based on the information collected under the scheme of NPR by verifying the citizenship status of all individuals in the country."

However, Javadekar quickly added that the answer is clear that there is no relation between NRC and NPR. "The NPR exercise being undertaken in 2020 will be the exact exercise carried out by UPA government in 2010, which you all welcomed. We are doing the same and now cannot say it is wrong," he said.

On 26 November, 2014 too, Rijiju told Rajya Sabha that NPR is the first step towards creation of NRC by verifying the citizenship status of every usual residents.

Contradicting its earlier position, the MHA officials too reiterated what Javadekar said. Officials said the government has no plans as of now to carry out an exercise to prepare a National Register of Citizens (NRC) for the whole country on the basis of data to be collected during the updating of NPR.

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said, "NPR=NRC. How much more will the Modi government lie and mislead the people? It was stated clearly on the record in the Rajya Sabha by this government, that the National Population Register is the base document from where the NRC work will start."

Senior Congress leader Ajay Maken tweeted, "Modi-ji - There is no discussion on NRC. Today, I&B Minister- There is no link between NPR & NRC. Modi Cabinet grants Rs 8500 crore for NPR! But-Look at 2018-19 Annual Report of the Union Home Ministry. Pg262-"..NPR is first step towards creation of NRIC" SHAME-PM shouldn't lie!"

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