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Anti-NRC sentiment now turns to target NPR: Bengal

Two prominent anti-NRC forums now want the Bengal government to stop work on the National Population Register (NPR) in the state.

Sabrangindia 03 Dec 2019
NRC protest
Samir Jana / HT Photo 

Bengal may in fact show India the way! After recent bye-polls in the state that saw the issue of NRC –with the fears and anxieties that the process has come to mean to all Indian citizens – figuring prominently, both the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have now expressed reservations over the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise. In fact, the saffron party’s setback in the three Assembly bye-elections is seen as a result of over-emphasis on this exercise. Now, two anti-NRC platforms now want the Bengal government to halt work on the National Population Register (NPR) in the state.

 Joint Forum Against NRC, one such platform, has called for a protest on Rani Rashmoni Road in central Kolkata on December 9. The second, the No-NRC Movement, has called for a gathering at Ramlila Maidan in central Kolkata on December 19. Both rallies are to voice their opposition to NRC, NPR and Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).

“TMC has evidently reaped benefits from its opposition to NRC. However, by felicitating the work of NPR while opposing NRC, the state government is clearly fooling the people of the state and this needs to be exposed,” said Monotosh Mukherjee, one of the organizers of No-NRC Movement.

So far, Joint Forum Against NRC has conducted a series of public meetings across Bengal, largely targeting BJP. The No-NRC Movement, which originated as a Facebook group that presently has more than one lakh members, set up committees in 16 of the state’s 23 districts and are reportedly conducting public meetings regularly.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, while assuring people that she would not allow NRC in West Bengal and would also oppose CAB when introduced in the Parliament, has sought people’s “cooperation” for NPR. A week-long training of government officers for NPR is scheduled in Kolkata in the first week of December. The NPR is to be conducted in 2020 during the for the census of 2021.

“NPR is the stepping stone for National Register for Indian Citizens (NRIC) and NRIC is nothing but another name for NRC. In Assam, it was NRC. For the rest of India, it will be NRIC,” said Ranjit Sur of Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) Bengal’s largest human rights organization.

The central government has described NPR as a ‘Register of usual residents of the country’. Participation in NPR is mandatory but people do not need to support documents the data they provide. NRIC “will be a Register of citizens of the country” that would be prepared “after verifying the details in the NPR and establishing the citizenship of each individual,” says a government document available on the public domain.

A senior TMC minister said that the party was “closely monitoring” the activities of the two forums and that the chief minister would respond on the issue “at the proper time”.

“Misinformation is being spread from many quarters but we are confident we will be able to convince the people about the need for NPR, NRC, and CAB,” said Mohit Ray, convenor of Bengal BJP’s refugee cell.

Anti-NRC sentiment now turns to target NPR: Bengal

Two prominent anti-NRC forums now want the Bengal government to stop work on the National Population Register (NPR) in the state.

NRC protest
Samir Jana / HT Photo 

Bengal may in fact show India the way! After recent bye-polls in the state that saw the issue of NRC –with the fears and anxieties that the process has come to mean to all Indian citizens – figuring prominently, both the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have now expressed reservations over the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise. In fact, the saffron party’s setback in the three Assembly bye-elections is seen as a result of over-emphasis on this exercise. Now, two anti-NRC platforms now want the Bengal government to halt work on the National Population Register (NPR) in the state.

 Joint Forum Against NRC, one such platform, has called for a protest on Rani Rashmoni Road in central Kolkata on December 9. The second, the No-NRC Movement, has called for a gathering at Ramlila Maidan in central Kolkata on December 19. Both rallies are to voice their opposition to NRC, NPR and Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).

“TMC has evidently reaped benefits from its opposition to NRC. However, by felicitating the work of NPR while opposing NRC, the state government is clearly fooling the people of the state and this needs to be exposed,” said Monotosh Mukherjee, one of the organizers of No-NRC Movement.

So far, Joint Forum Against NRC has conducted a series of public meetings across Bengal, largely targeting BJP. The No-NRC Movement, which originated as a Facebook group that presently has more than one lakh members, set up committees in 16 of the state’s 23 districts and are reportedly conducting public meetings regularly.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, while assuring people that she would not allow NRC in West Bengal and would also oppose CAB when introduced in the Parliament, has sought people’s “cooperation” for NPR. A week-long training of government officers for NPR is scheduled in Kolkata in the first week of December. The NPR is to be conducted in 2020 during the for the census of 2021.

“NPR is the stepping stone for National Register for Indian Citizens (NRIC) and NRIC is nothing but another name for NRC. In Assam, it was NRC. For the rest of India, it will be NRIC,” said Ranjit Sur of Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) Bengal’s largest human rights organization.

The central government has described NPR as a ‘Register of usual residents of the country’. Participation in NPR is mandatory but people do not need to support documents the data they provide. NRIC “will be a Register of citizens of the country” that would be prepared “after verifying the details in the NPR and establishing the citizenship of each individual,” says a government document available on the public domain.

A senior TMC minister said that the party was “closely monitoring” the activities of the two forums and that the chief minister would respond on the issue “at the proper time”.

“Misinformation is being spread from many quarters but we are confident we will be able to convince the people about the need for NPR, NRC, and CAB,” said Mohit Ray, convenor of Bengal BJP’s refugee cell.

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