Budget Session of Parliament: No decision on NRC yet, Centre tells LS; Opposition slams govt over unemployment, economy during Motion of Thanks agenda

In the Parliament on Tuesday, the Centre on Tuesday in the Lok Sabha said that the government hasn’t taken any decision on implementing a nationwide NRC.

FP Staff February 04, 2020 20:57:02 IST
Budget Session of Parliament: No decision on NRC yet, Centre tells LS; Opposition slams govt over unemployment, economy during Motion of Thanks agenda
  • Proceedings in the Lok Sabha were also disrupted on Tuesday morning following uproar by Opposition members over BJP leader Anant Hegde's controversial remarks on Mahatma Gandhi

  • In the Rajya Sabha too, proceedings began on a stormy note as Opposition members raised the slogans and demanded a discussion on CAA, NPR and NRC

  • However, the Centre said that the government hasn’t taken any decision on implementing a nationwide NRC

Amid nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) project, the Centre on Tuesday in the Lok Sabha said that the government hasn’t taken any decision on implementing the citizen's registry.

In a separate written reply in the Lok Sabha, the Centre also said that no document will be collected during the National Population Register (NPR) exercise, which critics say is the first rung of the NRC, and stated that providing the Aadhaar card during the NPR exercise is “only voluntary”.

Proceedings in the Lok Sabha were also disrupted on Tuesday morning following uproar by Opposition members over BJP leader Anant Hegde's controversial remarks on Mahatma Gandhi, with Congress members shouting slogans and walking out of the House after accusing the ruling party of doing "Godse politics". Immediately after the House convened at noon after the proceedings were adjourned following the uproar, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the BJP leader has "insulted" Mahatma Gandhi, who is respected by people across the globe.

In the Rajya Sabha too, proceedings began on a stormy note as Opposition members raised slogans and demanded a discussion on CAA, NPR and NRC. Soon after, members started chanting 'Goli chalana band karo (Stop firing bullets)' and descended into the Well.

The slogans were in an apparent reference to the firing incidents reported within a week's time at Shaheen Bagh and in Jamia Nagar and the violence witnessed during the protests against CAA, NRC and NPR.

Additionally, TMC MP Derek O'Brien raised his voice against the Chair for not taking up the suspension of business notice given by him under Rule 267 over the "prevailing situation in the country due to proposed NPR-NRC following the Citizenship Amendment Act".

No decision on nationwide NRC, says Centre

Regarding the NRC exercise, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai, said, "Till now, the government has not taken any decision to prepare the National Register of Indian Citizens at the national level."

However, the clarification didn’t stop Opposition MPs in both Houses — where the ‘Motion of Thanks’ for President Ram Nath Kovind’s joint address of Parliament was taken up for debate — from criticising the Centre for its mismatching statements on the issue.

On 22 December, Modi had said that his government had “never discussed NRC since coming to power for the first time in 2014”. He had added, “It has been discussed neither in Parliament nor in the Cabinet.” However, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has made statements on various platforms stating that a nationwide NRC will be implemented. Referring to the discrepancy between their remarks over NRC, TMC MP Sukhendu Ray sang a few verses of the popular yesteryear Bollywood songs, ‘Jhoot bole kauva kaate’, and ‘Mile sur mera tumhara’ to illustrate the confusion caused by the differing statements.

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi also questioned the government over whether NRC and NPR “were two sides of the same coin”.

Owaisi also “challenged” Modi to clarify in the House that the NPR and the NRC are not linked and there will be no NRC in the country.

The Supreme Court-monitored exercise of updating the NRC was carried out only in Assam last year. The final NRC, a list of Assam's residents published on 31 August, 2019, excluded names of 19 lakh people, creating a huge controversy.

Kovind did not refer to NRC in his address at the beginning of the Budget Session on Friday. However, on 20 June, 2019, soon after the formation of the new Lok Sabha, Kovind had said the Modi government had decided to implement the process of NRC on "priority basis".

Kovind had said illegal infiltrators posed a major threat to India's internal security and this was leading to a social imbalance in many parts of the country as well as putting huge pressure on limited livelihood opportunities.

"My government has decided to implement the process of National Register of Citizens on priority basis in areas affected by infiltration. Security along the border will be further strengthened to prevent infiltration," he had said.

No documents to be provided during NPR, says Centre

On Tuesday, the government also addressed the issue of NPR in a reply during Question Hour and said that no documents will be asked during the exercise which is likely to happen along with the Census.

The government is in discussion with the states having concerns with regard to the preparation of the NPR, the reply said.

The demographic and other particulars of each family and individual are to be updated/collected during the exercise of the updation of NPR.

Rai also said an instruction manual for the updation of NPR 2020 for enumerators and supervisors has been prepared and the people will have to provide information for the NPR to the best of their knowledge and belief.

"No document is to be collected during the updation of NPR," he said replying to a written question.

The minister also made it clear that during the NPR updation exercise, no verification will be done to find individuals whose citizenship is doubtful.

The NPR exercise will be carried out across the country along with the house listing phase of the Census 2021 from 1 April to 30 September, 2020.

"The NPR updation will be undertaken through house to house enumeration for collection of specified particulars relating to each family and individual. The respondent has to provide the information true to the best of his knowledge and belief. Aadhar Number is collected voluntarily," he said.

Rai said the population register is a register containing details of persons usually residing in a village or rural area or town or ward or demarcated area within a ward in a town or urban area.

"The NPR was first prepared in 2010 and updated in 2015. In pursuance of Sub-rule (4) of Rule 3 of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, framed under the Citizenship Act, 1955, central government decided to prepare and update the population register during April to September, 2020 throughout the country except Assam for collection of information relating to all persons usually residing in village or town," he said.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has appealed to her counterparts in the North East and non-BJP states to carefully study the NPR form, its questions and criteria before making a decision on updating it.

Dubbing the exercise as "a dangerous game", Banerjee said the form, which seeks birth details and residential proof of parents, was nothing but a precursor to the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The Kerala government has announced that it will implement the census exercise but will not cooperate with the NPR.

"As the NPR is a process that leads to the NRC, there is a sense of fear among the people. If the NPR and NRC are implemented in Kerala, it will lead to widespread anarchy. That is the experience of the state where the NRC was implemented,'' said a statement released by the Kerala Chief Minister's Office.

Centre introduces bill to amend Aircraft Act, proposes fine up to Rs 1 crore

The government on Tuesday introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha to amend the Aircraft Act wherein the fine amount for violations will be hiked from Rs 10 lakh to up to Rs 1 crore.

A few other provisions would also be made part of the law that will also help in complying with the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) requirements.

The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 also provides for keeping "aircraft belonging to any armed forces of the Union, other than naval, military or air force outside the purview" of the Aircraft Act, 1934.

Once the amendments are passed, the government will have the power to issue directions to review, if necessary in public interest, any order passed by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB), as per the bill's Statement of Objects and Reasons.

A key proposal is to increase the fine amount from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore for violations.

Govt provides numbers on anti-CAA protests

A total of 51 people were injured when masked people, armed with rods and sticks, attacked students and teachers of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on 5 January, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

"Fifty-one people sustained injuries and all were medically examined. No one was killed in this incident. Some private cars and property were also damaged. Some of the rioters involved have been identified," the minister said.

Reddy added that 62 police personnel and 127 citizens had been injured during protests against the CAA at Jamia Millia Islamia, which has been one of the epicentres of the protests against the contentious law since it was passed by Parliament in December 2019.

Meanwhile, Rai said that incidents of violence, unlawful gathering, stone pelting, and damage to public and personal property were reported during the protests against the CAA in Delhi.

He also said that the Central Government has received anti-CAA resolutions adopted by the legislative Assemblies of certain states and that the Kerala government has also filed a suit in the Supreme Court under Article 131 of the Constitution.

He added that the Delhi Police has reported that so far, 66 anti-CAA protests have been held in the National Capital, 11 cases have been registered following the violence and 99 people have been arrested.

Opposition criticises President's joint address in Motion of Thanks

The Motion of Thanks segment in response to the President's address was the longest discussed on the agenda on Tuesday, in both the Houses. Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, Owaisi, Ray, Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav were among those who spoke.

Tharoor attacked the government in the Lok Sabha saying it has "partitioned India's soul" in 2020 while also saying that the government should name its schemes "sit-down" "shutdown" and "shut-up India". Alleging a fundamental assault on democratic and secular structure of the country, he claimed that the government was dividing the country into "Hindus vs Muslims", and "Us vs Them", Tharoor said.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Azad, criticised the NDA government over the promises about employment and healthcare made by the BJP and said that on the counts of the economy, unemployment, education, the government has fallen short of the promises made.

With inputs from agencies

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