On December 3, K. Muraleedharan, of Congress Party, elected from Vadakara Constituency of Kerala, asked the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the LokSabha if the NPR (National Population Register) exercise was any different from the census and whether it was linked to NRC (national Register of Citizens). NRC has been wreaking havoc in the state of Assam for the past few years now, hence the concerns among people and their elected representatives on the impending issue.
It is crucial to note that the Ministry chose to skip the part of the question where it asked how different this process was or is, from the proposed NRC. Either this is because they intend to sweep it under the rug or they themselves have not sorted out the modalities of the behemoth of an exercise which is scheduled to commence in April 2020 and conclude in September 2020.
The Ministry did mention the statutory backing behind NPR saying that In pursuance of sub rule (4) of rule 3 of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Card) Rules, 2003, framed under the Citizenship Act, 1955, the Central Government prepared National Population Register in 2010 and updated it in 2015. It further stated that NPR will be updated along with the first phase of Census 2021 i.e. Housing & House listing Operations of Census 2021. It also estimated that an amount of Rs. 8754.23 crore for conducting Census 2021 and Rs. 3941.35 crore for updating National Population Register would be required.
The unanswered question
The question about difference, if any, between NPR and NRC remain unanswered. The answer may be found in an archived website of india.gov.in., under the heading “National Population Register: My Identity My Pride”
This page states, “The creation of the National Population Register (NPR) is the first step towards preparation of the NRIC (National Register of Indian Citizens)” or the commonly known NRC.It further states, “Out of the universal data set of residents, the subset of citizens would be derived after due verification of the citizenship status. Therefore, it is compulsory for all usual residents to register under the NPR.”
About NRIC or NRC, the website says, “The National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) will be a Register of citizens of the country. It will be prepared at the local (Village level), sub District (Tehsil/Taluk level), District, State and National level after verifying the details in the NPR and establishing the citizenship of each individual. The NRIC, therefore, would be a sub-set of the NPR.”
The website further goes on to explain the procedure of NPR. The current website of census has a section on NPR and contains general data on it and does not mention anything about the NRC.
While the government is silent on the connection between NRC and NPR, this archived website says a lot about the initial intentions of conducting NPR and also probably is indicative of further intentions of the government with regards to NPR 2020.
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