Scrap CAA-NPR-NRC: Ex-bureaucrats to Centre

Scrap CAA-NPR-NRC: Ex-bureaucrats to Centre

The open letter, signed by 106 former bureaucrats said fears have been compounded by the "contradictory and confusing" statements made government spokesperson on the implementation of NRC.

Demanding the repeal of controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and opposing National Population Register (NPR) as well as National Register of Citizens (NRC), over 100 former top bureaucrats on Thursday took on the Narendra Modi government, saying there is an "undue obsession" about illegal immigrants and causing "deep unease" among Muslims.

Emphasising that the ordinary citizen is "left bewildered and is overcome by unknown fears" as government has not "entered into any dialogue", they suggested that the country can "ill afford a situation" where the citizenry and the government enter into confrontation on the roads at a time when the "economic situation in the country warrants the closest attention" of the authorities.

The open letter, signed by 106 former bureaucrats including former National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, former Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar and former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, said fears have been compounded by the "contradictory and confusing" statements made government spokesperson on the implementation of NRC.

Arguing that there is "no need" for the NPR and NRC, the letter, which is also signed by former Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and former Mumbai Police Commissioner Julio Ribeiro, said the move on NRC seems to "indicate an undue obsession about illegal immigrants, without any factual basis".

"We fail to understand the need for a nationwide identification of illegal migrants, which is what the NRIC in effect amounts to, when census statistics over the past seven decades do not show any major demographic shifts, except in certain pockets in some areas of North-Eastern and Eastern India adjoining our neighbouring countries," it said.

The ex-bureaucrats were also "apprehensive" about the vast powers to include or exclude a person from the Local Register of Indian Citizens that is going to be vested in the bureaucracy at a fairly junior level, saying it has the scope to be employed in an "arbitrary and discriminatory manner, subject to local pressures and to meet specific political objectives" besides "unbridled scope" for large-scale corruption.

"Our group of former civil servants, with many years of service in the public sphere, is firmly of the view that both the NPR and the NRC are unnecessary and wasteful exercises, which will cause hardship to the public at large and will also entail public expenditure that is better spent on schemes benefiting the poor and disadvantaged sections of society," it said.

The letter also argued that it invades citizens' right to privacy, "since a lot of information, including Aadhaar, mobile numbers and voter IDs will be listed in a document, with scope for misuse".

On the "morally untenable" CAA, which was coupled with "rather aggressive statements" from the "highest levels" of the government, they said, it had "rightly" caused "deep unease in India' s Muslim community, which has "already faced discrimination and attacks on issues ranging from allegations of love jihad to cattle smuggling and beef consumption".

"That the Muslim community has had to face the brunt of police action in recent days only in those states where the local police is controlled by the party in power at the centre only adds credence to the widespread feeling that the NPR-NRIC exercise could be used for selective targeting of specific communities and individuals," the letter said, questioning the actions by BJP-ruled states.

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