NPR not linked to NRC, says Amit Shah in interview; Congress terms it a lie, counters with 2018 MHA report
Shah also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was right in saying that there has been no discussion on a nationwide NRC process 'either in the Cabinet or Parliament.'
Union home minister Amit Shah on Tuesday said that there is no link between the National Population Register (NPR) exercise and the National Register of Citizen (NRC).
His statements comes on a day that the Union Cabinet approved a proposal to update the National Population Register (NPR)
However, the Centre has unequivocally stated in the past that the two processes are linked.
Seeking to put an end to apprehensions about the updation of National Population Register (NPR), Union home minister Amit Shah on Tuesday said that there is no link between the National Population Register (NPR) exercise and the National Register of Citizen (NRC). His statements comes on a day that the Union Cabinet approved a proposal to update the National Population Register (NPR)
In an exclusive interview with ANI, Shah said that that information obtained through NPR cannot be used for NRC which was a separate process. He said the union cabinet has not ever discussed NRC.
"NPR is register of population, NRC is register of citizens. There is no link between the two and the two have different processes," Shah told ANI. He also added that information obtained through NPR cannot be used for NRC which was a separate process.
However, the Centre has unequivocally stated in the past that the two processes are linked. For instance, former minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju had stated in a reply to a question in Parliament in May 2015, "It has been decided that National Population Register (NPR) should be completed and taken to its logical conclusion, which is the creation of National Register of Indian Citizen (NRIC) by verification of citizenship status of every usual resident in the NPR and National Identity Cards would be issued to Citizens."
Similarly, a Press Information Bureau release from 26 November, 2014 stated, "The National Population Register (NPR) is a register of all the usual residents which include citizens and non-citizens as well. The NPR is the first step towards creation of National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) by verifying the citizenship status of every usual residents."
Soon after Shah's interview, the Congress tweeted:
Once again the BJP govt is caught in a trap of their own making.
2018-19 Annual Report of the Union Home Ministry clearly states NPR is first step to NRC.
Also in 2014 former MoS Home Ministry Kiren Rijiju replied to a question in RS stating the same.
Who's lying now? pic.twitter.com/ljpMIsZz5H
— Congress (@INCIndia) December 24, 2019
'No discussions on nationwide NRC'
Shah, in his interview on Tuesday, also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was right in saying that there has been no discussion on a nationwide NRC process "either in the Cabinet or Parliament." However, Shah himself had told the Rajya Sabha on 20 November that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process will be carried out across India.
"The process of the NRC will be carried out across the country. No one irrespective of their religion should be worried. It is just a process to get everyone under the NRC," Shah had said, replying to a supplementary during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha.
Similarly, President Ram Nath Kovind, addressing a joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament on 20 June, 2019 had said, "My Government has decided to implement the process of ‘National Register of Citizens’ on priority basis in areas affected by infiltration."
Shah also said that the National Population Register (NPR) will not affect the nationality status of any citizen of the country. "The NPR will not affect anyone's nationality. Even if somebody's name is missing from NPR, then too, his citizenship will not be threatened," the home minister said.
Shah asserted that the NPR is a continuation of a move started by the former UPA government.
"It is a constitutional provision and is the same exercise which was conducted by the Congress-led government earlier. It is neither a part of our manifesto nor our promise. It was a good move started by the Congress which is simply being followed," he said.
He emphasised that no person should have any reason to be concerned about the exercise, and that the data collected under the NPR exercise is helpful for the government to formulate schemes for people.
"The data collected under NPR will be used to formulate plans for the betterment of the public through central government schemes. It is not an exercise to decide citizenship of any person," Shah said.
Urge Bengal and Kerala to rethink their opposition to NPR, says Shah
Shah also urged West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to rethink their decision to stop work on updating National Population Register (NPR).
"I want to tell chief ministers of both states (Kerala and West Bengal), don't take such step. They should rethink," Shah said.
"This (NPR) is the base for welfare programmes for poor of Kerala and Bengal. Please don't keep poor people out of the developmental programme for politics, bring them in," he added.
With inputs from ANI
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