Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday he would not fill the National Population Register form, Hindustan Times reported. The register is described by the Census of India as “the first step towards the creation of a National Register of Citizens”, which is a proposed exercise to identify undocumented immigrants. On Tuesday, more than Rs 3,900 crore was approved by the Union Cabinet for updating the population register.
Yadav said the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party will not get the privilege to decide who are Indian citizens. “We don’t want NPR,” the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said at an event in Lucknow to welcome student leaders. “What we want are employment and livelihood. The experts are saying that the economy is in ICU [Intensive Care Unit].”
Yadav pointed out that Mahatma Gandhi had burned identity cards in South Africa, and added that Samajwadi Party workers would be the first to refuse to fill up the population register. “I will not fill any form, now you decide if you will fill nor not,” he said.
On December 10, during a debate on the amendments to the Citizenship Amendment Act in the Lok Sabha, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi had torn up a copy of the bill, and referred to Gandhi’s act of civil disobedience. Owaisi said Gandhi was called Mahatma after he tore a discriminatory citizenship card in South Africa in 1910.
Akhilesh Yadav, meanwhile, blamed Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath for the deaths of anti-Citizenship Act protestors from firearm injuries. At least 19 people have died in the state in the past two weeks, 16 of them from firearm wounds. The nationwide toll is 26.
“It’s the chief minister’s language that led to the deaths,” Yadav alleged. “And now prompted by his language, the state government officers too are speaking in the same voice.” Yadav was referring to Meerut Superintendent of Police Akhilesh Narayan Singh, who was caught on camera telling a group of Muslims to go to Pakistan. On Saturday, Adityanath had justified police crackdown.
Yadav promised to order an investigation into the alleged police excesses if his party is voted to power in the next Assembly elections. “A sitting judge of the High Court or Supreme Court should probe the police action during the CAA protests,” he added.
Following two weeks of massive protests, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday claimed that the National Population Register had nothing to do with the National Register of Citizens, and that the government had not yet discussed NRC. However, Opposition parties accused Shah of contradicting his own statements from the past.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims.