Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath on Monday said his government did not have any plans to update the National Population Register, which is the first step towards creating an all-India National Register of Citizens, PTI reported. As critics have noted, the NRC, in tandem with the Citizenship Amendment Act passed in December, could be used to render many Indian Muslims stateless.
Madhya Pradesh became the first Congress-ruled state to take the decision.Kerala and West Bengal have already issued orders to stop work on the population register while a minister in Maharashtra government has said the state will not implement the NPR and the proposed NRC until parties in the ruling alliance arrive at a consensus.
Nath’s statement came after a Congress MLA claimed the state government had issued a gazette notification on the population register. “It’s a wrong thing that happened and should be clarified,” Arif Masood, a first-time legislator from Bhopal, told News18. “The NPR is just a small form of the National Register of Citizens.” Masood said the Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre would enforce the citizens’ register through the NPR, and claimed it had altered the population register and the Census to seek information about people’s ancestors. He also opposed six sub-rules under which the population register is tagged.
Nath told reporters in the state capital that his administration had issued a circular on the matter on December 9. “After this, the Centre has decided to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act,” PTI quoted the chief minister as saying. “It means the NPR notified by the [state] government is not the one under the CAA 2019, but as per the provisions of CAA-1955s, 2003s rule 3. Despite this, the NPR will not be implemented in the state.”
Madhya Pradesh’s Public Relations Minister PC Sharma also explained the government circular had been issued before the new citizenship law came into existence, and said the population register would not be implemented in the state.
At a protest rally in the state in December, Nath had said his government would not implement the Citizenship Amendment Act, calling it “anti-constitutional”. On February 5, the state government passed a resolution against the citizenship law and called for its abrogation.