New Delhi, January 18: States ruled by Opposition parties raised objection to new questions introduced in the 2020 National Population Register (NPR) form. A meeting was convened by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday to discuss the upcoming census and NPR exercise. During the meeting, Opposition-ruled states sought to know why the NPR form seeks details the date and place of birth of an individual’s parents. Why Citizenship Amendment Act+NRC Raise Fear And Concerns: A Multi-Dimensional Take.
The meeting was attended by Union Home Secretary A K Bhalla, officials of the Registrar General of India (RGI), Chief Secretaries and Census officials of all states and Union Territories, except West Bengal. According to a report by The Indian Express, objections were raised to Question No. 13 (II) of the NPR form which seeks information on the date and place of birth of an individual’s parents. CAA Protests: 'Those Born Before 1987 or Whose Parents Are Born Before 1987 Are Indians', Says Government.
"We told RGI that asking date and place of birth of parents was impractical as people in this country do not remember their own date of birth. The RGI said this question had been asked earlier and remains voluntary," Rajasthan Chief Secretary D B Gupta was quoted as saying. The Ministry of Home Affairs gave a detailed explanation and pointed out that all such information is voluntary and respondents may choose not to give them.
"Odisha first raised this point (about details of the date and place of birth of parents) at the meeting. Some other states, ruled by Opposition parties, too had reservations on this question. However, a cogent explanation was given and they appeared to be satisfied," an MHA official told the daily. "When some still expressed reservations, we told them that information is voluntary and if the respondent does not want to give such information, he/she can refuse to give it," he added.
At least, three states - West Bengal, Kerala and Rajasthan - have put the NPR process on hold. As mandated by the central government, under the NPR, a census will be conducted from house to house across the country from April 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020. Many say the newly-introduced questions in the NPR form will lay the foundation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) which was carried out in Assam to identify infiltrators.
Many suspects that the Modi government wants to target Muslims through the NRC as it has brought the Citizenship Amendment Act which gives Indian citizenship to immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh but not if they are Muslims. While non-Muslims left out of the NRC would be able to get citizenship under the CAA, Muslims who could not make the list may be deported.