The Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday refuted a claim made in an article published in The Hindu on the Narendra Modi government’s decision to finalise a National Population Register form used during a trial last year. The form reportedly seeks details of the respondent’s “place of birth of father and mother”. had reported on this on December 17.

The ministry rejected that there were apprehensions, as reported by The Hindu, that people would have to dig out old documents to prove their residency on the lines of the National Register of Citizens exercise in Assam. “The story ignores government’s stated position that no individual will be required to submit any document to any authority or enumerator visiting his/her household for NPR survey,” the government added. “Information provided by the individual would be accepted and recorded accordingly.”

Around 30 lakh people in 74 districts reportedly responded to the government questionnaire during the trial stage that included queries on 21 parameters, including demographic details such as name, age, sex, relationship in household, nationality, educational qualifications, occupation, date of birth, marital status, residential address, birthplace and mother tongue. It also asked respondents about their parents’ birthplace, and Aadhaar details, driver’s licence, voter identity card and mobile number “if available”.

The current NPR has a database of 119 crore residents. The Hindu reported that the government did not receive any adverse feedback on the form.

“It is brought to the notice of the media to ensure accuracy of facts while publishing any story on such sensitive issues in order to avoid misconception in public,” the ministry added.

An unidentified official had told The Hindu that families would be intimated in advance about an enumerator’s visit so that documents of every family member are readily available for verification.

“If there are 15 members in the family, the enumerators would give them a prior notice, so that documents of all are available when the field visit is undertaken,” the official had added. “The enumerator will see the documents.”

The new NPR data is scheduled to be collected from April to September along with the decennial Census exercise. However, states such as West Bengal and Kerala, and a few Congress-ruled states have issued orders stopping work on the population register amid apprehensions that it will be used to identify undocumented immigrants during the National Register of Citizens exercise. The Census of India website describes the NPR as “the first step towards the creation of a National Register of Citizens”.

However, the government has consistently denied links between NRC, NPR and the Citizenship Act. Last week, Union Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad reiterated that the three were “not interconnected”. “NRC is a separate chapter,” he told a newspaper. “CAA does not apply to any Indian, including the Muslims of India. It only and only relates to Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains, Buddhists and Christians who are victimised for their faith in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.”

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