Nityanand Rai. | Photo Credit: Ranjeet Kumar
In yet another twist in the ongoing citizenship related debate, the government has now submitted before the Parliament that as of now there are no plans to prepare a National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC). This is noteworthy, because just after the Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed in Parliament, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had ominously stated, “NRC is coming.”
Shah had, in November 2019, told the Rajya Sabha, “The Assam exercise was carried out under a Supreme Court order. NRC will be carried out across the country, will be done in Assam again at the time, no one from any religion should be worried.”
But in light of a submission made by his own ministry in Lok Sabha one wonders if Shah had misled the Parliament then, or has the government changed its mind in wake of the burgeoning nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR). The government that was previously giving the impression that the NPR was the same as the Census, has now stated that providing information for NPR is voluntary.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was responding to questions raised by TRS’s Nama Nageshwar Rao in the Lok Sabha. Minister of State in the MHA Nityanand Rai responded in writing stating, “Till now, the government has not taken any decision to prepare National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) at the national level.” The submission may be viewed here:
In a related matter, the MHA also submitted that no detention camp had been constructed in Assam to exclusively lodge people who can’t provide documentary proof under NRIC. But bizarrely in response to a subsequent question conflates Assam’s NRC with NRIC that applies to the rest of the country! The MHA says those unhappy with the rulings during the claims process can appeal against it before the designated Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT). But the functioning of FTs is only related to Assam’s NRC and so far, they have nothing to do with NRIC, which as per the MHA the government has no plans to initiate at the moment. This makes one wonder if this is an attempt at deliberate obfuscation. This bizarre submission may be viewed here: