Posted on January 17, 2020, 2:07 PM IST
Nationwide protests have been rocking in for the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019, and the updation of National Population Register. Inspite of which Minister of state for home, Nityanand Rai met with senior representatives from the states on Friday to “seek their cooperation” to conduct Census 2021 and update NPR database.
It has been reported that legislature members from West Bengal were missing the meet as the CM Mamata Banerjee has announced that NPR won’t be implemented in the state.
The NPR first came into being in 2010 and was updated in 2015. Unlike the Census database, which is protected and the data released is aggregated up to block and Tehsils, the NPR is household specific and data is not protected. The NPR records include details like name, age, address, along with biometric data links like Aadhaar, mobile phone number and passport among others. However, providing these data points to update NPR are voluntary.
“Such preparatory conference are routine before a census and updating NPR database, but it assumes significance because of apprehension expressed by some states,” a senior MHA official, who didn’t want to be named, said and added, “issues like appointment of trainers, enumerators etc who will collect data both for the Census 2021 and NPR will be discussed in the conference. “
The Register General of India (RGI) will also address the senior state representatives to clarify issues around the two enumeration exercises.
The government had initially said that the updation of NPR would be followed by a National Register of Citizens (NRC) where in individuals are supposed to prove their citizenship either by birth or by naturalization. Those left out of NRC would then have to appeal to Foreigners Tribunals to be regarded as citizens.
In the face of protests across the country, the Centre has maintained that updating NPR is necessary to better frame and target developmental schemes.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was, however, quick to assure the fear of people. In a political rally in Delhi, the Prime Minister said that no decision has been taken by the government on NRC so far.
“We expect the protest and resistance to die down as people are made aware of why NPR is required,” a senior government official said on condition of anonymity.
Opposition ruled states of West Bengal and Kerala have put updation of NPR on a “temporary hold” only and the states of Punjab , Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have issued notifications to update the NPR.
The BJP, alongside the government’s campaign to raise awareness about NPR, is also doing a door to door campaign. It hopes to touch five crore households by February. Home Minister Amit Shah also participated in the door to door campaign in Delhi. In addition, Centre hopes that like West Bengal, Kerala, etc, who have been at the forefront opposing NPR and NRC, will also come around given the benefits an updated NPR would bring to administering government schemes.