The Delhi Assembly on Friday passed a resolution against the implementation of the proposed National Population Register, ANI reported. The Aam Aadmi Party government, which moved the resolution, claimed that the NPR, along with the National Register of Citizens, would not just target a particular religion but would also impact the majority population.
Party leader Gopal Rai tabled the resolution at a special session of the Assembly convened by the government to discuss the matter and to address the novel coronavirus pandemic situation in the national Capital.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah had on Thursday told the Rajya Sabha that no document would be needed for the National Population Register and no person would be put into the D, or “doubtful”, category.
Speaking in the Delhi Assembly, Rai questioned on what basis Shah was giving assurances to the public about the NPR. “The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had amended the citizenship law as per which it was decided [that] NPR data will be collated with it,” Rai said, according to The Indian Express. “This will be followed by verification. Suspicious data will be categorised as doubtful. Have the 2003 rules been amended? If not, NRC will naturally follow NPR.”
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 Amendment Act. “Such a type of thing did not happen even during the British rule,” Rai said. “This is raising questions on every person’s citizenship.”
Rai said that when the NRC exercise was undertaken in Assam, 19 lakh people, including both Hindus and Muslims, were excluded from the final list. The NRC and NPR have nothing to do with religion, he claimed.
Tabling the resolution in the Assembly, the minister added that if the Centre insists on implementing the NPR in Delhi, then the process should carried out the way it was done in 2010. AAP MLA Raghav Chadha said: “Hindus are being told that they do not need to worry. But actually, Hindus will be the worst sufferers.”
The questions introduced in the new NPR form include details of parents’ birth, Aadhaar number, passport number, mobile phone number, voter ID number and mother tongue. 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. Even Nitish Kumar, a Bharatiya Janata Party ally and the chief minister of Bihar, has said that NPR will not be implemented in the state in its new form, but only according to its 2010 format.
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.