New Delhi, December 26
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Thursday alleged that the National Population Register (NPR) approved by the BJP government was different and dangerous in terms of the “text and context” of the data collection done in 2010.
Charging that the BJP government had a “sinister agenda”, he said if the BJP’s motives were bona fide, the government should unconditionally state that they supported the NPR form and design of 2010 and did not intend to link it to the controversial NRC.
“The BJP-led government has a larger and more sinister agenda and that is why the NPR approved by them yesterday is very dangerous and different in terms of the TEXT as well as the CONTEXT of NPR 2010.
“If the BJP’s motives are bonafide, let the Government unconditionally state that they support the NPR form and design of 2010 and have no intention of linking it to the controversial NRC,” he said on Twitter.
Chidambaram said he is happy that the BJP had released a video clip of the launch of NPR in 2010.
“Please listen to the video. We were enumerating the ‘usual residents’ of the country. The emphasis is on residency not citizenship,” he said.
The Congress leader said cases had been registered against 8,000 people for anti-CAA protest in Chennai; 1,300 booked in Madurai; against 1,200 for taking out a candle march in Aligarh.
“Long live the right to assemble peacefully guaranteed by the Constitution! “Police believe that peaceful protests are more dangerous to law and order than rape, murder and lynching,” he said on Twitter.
'Govt trying to bring in NRC in garb of NPR'
Meanwhile, senior Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken said the government should answer categorically why citizens are being asked the NRC-related questions in the NPR’s pre-test forms.
Asserting that his party would oppose the government if it tries to link the NPR with the NRC, he alleged that it infringes upon the citizens’ right to privacy.
Maken also said the Congress had only taken the first step for having a national population register but the BJP is now seeking to link it to the NRC, which the Congress never wanted.
“The BJP government is trying to bring in the NRC in the garb of the NPR. The BJP government wants to polarise society,” he said.
Maken said the questions being asked in the NPR pre-test questionnaire are not required for the exercise.
He said as per the 2003 rules of Citizenship Amendment Act, the government may compulsorily register every citizen and may maintain a national register of Indian citizens.
“NPR is for ordinary residents, in which either they have lived at a place for more than six months or want to stay there for more than six months. The video of Chidambaram ji being circulated is not about citizens, it is about common residents,” he clarified.
He said the questions added now in pre-test forms, which are in circulation now, are the ones required for the NRC and in no way are they required for usual residents.
“The definition of usual resident does not require the additional information which they are seeking now. So, for usual residents why are they seeking additional information which is not required at all?” he asked.
Maken clarified that in no way the NPR would automatically lead to the NRC as clause 14(A) of the Citizenship Amendment Act clearly says that the government ‘may’ compulsorily register citizen.
“The government may maintain a national register of Indian citizen. So, it is not automatically done, if the government does not want, because this ‘may’ can be converted into ‘shall’ – it depends on the sweet will of the government and as I said we decided on the pilot project not to extend it.
Accordingly, the Congress government in 2006 decided against continuing with the pilot project because this Citizenship project to issue identity cards to citizens was cumbersome and difficult, said Maken.
Maken said the Congress started preparing the NPR along with the census and linked the NPR to the census operation at the time of houses and housing survey.
“Then we got ‘Aadhar’ issued. So, that is how we were able to give I Cards to 1.2 billion people and that is why we say ‘Aadhar’ card does not confer citizenship to you. It is just a pure identity card and not a citizenship document.”
“In ten years of our government, we did not start the second step. Rather we stopped the pilot project. So, what more can be our intention about this entire thing?
“We are asking the government to come clear on what exactly the NPR schedule is and how they are going to canvass the NPR,” the Congress leader said. PTI
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