The Haryana government does not have documents to prove the citizenship of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Governor Satyadev Narayan Arya and other Cabinet ministers, the response to a Right to Information query has revealed.
Panipat-based activist PP Kapoor had filed an RTI in January seeking certificates or attested copies of documents that would prove the citizenship of the chief minister, the governor and all ministers of the state Cabinet, according to NDTV.
“While returning your letter, we would like to inform that the Chief Minister’s secretariat branch doesn’t have any such record available with it,” the state secretariat said in its response dated February 17. “The information sought by you might be available with the Election Commission. Hence, you may get in touch with the Election Commission for the relevant information.”
Before the Haryana Assembly elections last year, Khattar had said that he would implement the National Register of Citizens in his state along the lines of Assam to remove illegal immigrants. He had sought suggestions from former State Human Rights Commission Chairperson and judge HS Bhalla, who had recommended that people be issued cards that prove they are “genuine residents” of the state.
He told reporters in January that about 1,500 people who had come to India following religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan were living in Haryana. They can now get citizenship because of the amendments to the Citizenship Act, he had claimed.
At a press briefing this year in January, the Chief Minister had informed that about 1,500 people who came to India after facing religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan were living in Haryana, and that they can now be given citizenship because of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA.
“Around 1,500 people belonging to different minority communities of these three countries have been living in Haryana,” Khattar had said. “Out of these 1,500, there is only one Muslim family.”
CAA, NRC and NPR
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014.
The population register is linked to the census, due in 2021, and is a list of “usual residents” in the country. However, it has also been linked to the National Register of Citizens, a proposed nationwide exercise to identify undocumented migrants and differentiate them from citizens of India. The Census of India website has described the NPR as “the first step towards the creation of a National Register of Citizens”.
Critics have said that the NRC, in tandem with the Citizenship Amendment Act, could be used to render many Indian Muslims stateless since the citizenship law excludes Muslims.