Identifying fake Aadhaar, a plot to bring in CAA-NRC?

A letter recently issued by the Union government to eight states, asks them to identify illegal Aadhar card holders in only specific areas

Mamata Banerjee
Image: The Telegraph

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hit back at the Centre for using verification of Aadhar as a means of implementing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in West Bengal. She has categorically refused to comply with the same.

This is in reference to the letter sent by the Central government to eight states including West Bengal instructing them to identify illegal Aadhaar cards and those people who do not have Aadhaar cards. The letter also specifies the areas where this exercise should be carried out. In Bengal, the Centre has identified the areas of North-and South-24 Parganas for implementing these checks. Banerjee said that the government was reviving the citizenship overdrive ahead of the General Election next year.

She was addressing a press conference when she said, ““I am directed to refer to ongoing exercise for verification/updation of illegal Aadhaar cards in the selected districts and to forward a list of the specific location of exact pockets of settlements of illegal foreigners in those selected districts to enable UIDAI to be more focussed in the exercise for the elimination of illegal Aadhaar cards.”

The letter was sent to the chief executive officer of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) from an under-secretary in the Union home ministry, reported The Telegraph.

As per Census 2011 data, South 24 Parganas has 35.57% Muslim population while North 24 Paragans has 25.82% Muslim population. Banerjee further said, “They want to eliminate a particular community from their rights of citizenship through this drive. The plot is to declare all those people ‘foreigners’ if their Aadhaar card is detected as illegal with any lack (of information). It means they are again playing with the NRC card”.

They have also mentioned specific areas in South24 Parganas namely Baruipur, Canning, Sonarpur and Malikpur; also Barasat, Hasnabad, Bongaon, Petrapole, Barrackpore, Naihati, Jagatdal and Khardaha in North 24-Parganas.

“I am not going to take part in the NRC-like exercise. I will not allow them to play with the NRC card here. I think that all who live in Bengal are already citizens of our country,” she added, as reported by The Telegraph.

The nexus of CAA-NRC-NPR is not a figment of Banerjee’s imagination. Neither is it a political ploy to target the regime. It is a matter of fact which the Union government has vehemently denied from time to time.

Citizens for Justice and Peace has analysed this toxic cocktail of CAA-NRC-NPR in January 2020 when the debate on CAA was boiling (which later subdued due to COVID-19 pandemic). The analysis brought forth how this will affect not just the Muslim community but the marginalised communities at large. The detailed analysis may be read here.

How NPR was the first step towards a nation-wide NRC was clearly explained on the basis of existing legal provisions by CJP in this article, in the form of FAQs. The FAQs explain how as per the preparation methodology prescribed in Citizenship (Registration of Citizen & Issue of NC) Rules 2003, it is from the NPR that data will be taken for Updation in the Local Register of Indian Citizen (i.e. part of NRC) after Scrutiny and Verification.

The exercise of NRC in Assam whereby the (supposedly) final list was released in August 2019 left a population of 1.3 crore impoverished and socially disbarred by being interminably denied citizenship. The process of NRC has not yet culminated in Assam as there has been alot of back and forth on the finality of the August 2019 NRC thus leaving the status of citizenship of those excluded from that list in limbo as their status of citizenship has not been determined and they have no means to prove the same unless official process is started by the concerned authorities in the state. Looking at the state of the residents of Assam, the rest of the country feared its repercussions on them and hence, the opposition to CAA-NRC-NPR was so strong.

West Bengal, under Banerjee has been the loudest voice against CAA and the Centre’s intention of bringing in NRC through NPR.



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