Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Sunday said in a media interview that data from the National Population Register (NPR) may or may not be used for the National Register of Citizens (NRC). This comes merely days after home minister Amit Shah said in an interview with ANI that there is no link between the NPR and NRC, and that information obtained through the former process cannot be used for the latter.
Prasad, during an interview to The Indian Express, was asked if data from the NPR would not be used for the NRC. To this, he replied, "The entire legal process will be followed. Some may be used or some may not be used. But let me answer the larger question. Any citizen can vote; but to vote you have to be on voters’ list. So even if you are a citizen, and are not on voters’ list — a citizen cannot vote. This voters’ list is reviewed. Similarly in Passport Act or the PAN, whole range of data are being taken… So this thing that (only) NPR is collecting parents’ data, I fail to understand."
On 24 December, Shah had told ANI, "NPR is register of population, NRC is register of citizens. There is no link between the two and the two have different processes."
However, as pointed out in this article, the Centre has clearly 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."
Prasad, in the interview to The Indian Express also said that the Congress had owned up both NPR and the NRC as a subset, and accused the party of doublespeak and hypocrisy.
In a separate interview to Hindustan Times on Sunday, Prasad also said, "Our commitment is there to NRC. But the government is very clear about it...whenever it is done, it shall be in accordance with the legal requirement of the Citizenship Act and the rules therein. Also, it will be done after consulting the states. As of now, nothing has been done, not even the preliminary exercise to notify the date."
However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing a rally at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan on 22 December, had said that ever since his government first came to power in 2014, no discussions had been held on a nationwide NRC.
Eighteen days after the Rajya Sabha passed the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act, several parts of the country have witnessed large-scale protests against the legislation. The Opposition is also up in arms against the law and the NRC process, with many chief ministers from non-BJP ruled states saying that they will not implement it in their states.
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Updated Date: Dec 29, 2019 21:32:10 IST