Asking All CMs, CJI and Opposition to Reject NPR/NRC in all 29 States
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The government has stated that they will implement the National Register of Citizens (NRC) across India using the information gathered through the National Population Register (NPR).
The NPR has been allotted a budget of almost 4000 crore, which is enough to create millions of jobs, improve healthcare and education, and alleviate poverty across the country.
The NPR is dangerous as it can be misused for racial and religious profiling, and can be an extremely traumatic experience especially for the country’s disadvantaged including the poor, minorities, women, Adivasis, homeless, and transgender people, etc. People will be forced to go through enormous hardship to prove that they are citizens in the midst of the worst economic crisis in India.
As conscientious citizens of the country, we must oppose these draconian ideas because:
- The NPR is a list of “usual residents of the country” that is people who have been residing in a local area for at least the last six months, or intends to stay in a particular location for the next six months. The NPR is being prepared under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 (hereinafter “2003 Citizenship Rules”). It is mandatory for every “usual resident of India” to register in the NPR.
- On July 23, 2014, Kiren Rijiju, the then minister of state for home, had told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply: “The government has now decided to create the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) based on the information collected under the scheme of NPR by verifying the citizenship status of all individuals in the country.” The idea of conducting a nationwide NRC can only happen on the basis of the upcoming NPR. After a list of residents is created, a nationwide NRC could go about verifying the citizens from that list.
- The NPR creates the category of “doubtful citizen”. (See Rule 4(4) of the 2003 Citizenship Rules). The “doubtful citizens” list will delegitimize citizenship, and thus harass citizens, encourage exclusion, create fear, and instigate violence. This is not how a democracy functions. The enormous waste of economic resources cannot be overlooked in a struggling economy. Furthermore, combining NPR with the Census could result in an undercount of the population thereby affecting the implementation of government services and programs across the board.
- The 2003 Citizenship rules demand that every household must comply with the NPR (See Rule 4). Defaulting on it will result in fines (See Rule 17) and will allow the district registrar or taluk registrar (DR/TR) to demand more documents, (See Rule 8) thus increasing the burden on citizens.
- The 2019 amendment to the Foreigner (Tribunals) Order allows the District Magistrate in charge of the NPR-NRC to refer citizens to the Foreigners Tribunal (See Para 3A as inserted by the 2019 amendment). Giving such powers to the district magistrate not only poses a big challenge to democracy, constitutional values, and the country’s social fabric, it will also have a detrimental impact on the economy.
- The Citizenship Amendment Act which offers citizenship to doubtful citizens fails because not only does it select certain illegal migrants on the basis of religion, but it also does so for reasons that have no basis in the law itself. Either a person is persecuted on the basis of religion or they are not. Some illegal migrants are not more equal than others. The Supreme Court in SR Bommai v. Union of India explicitly noted that: “…religion cannot be mixed with the secular activity of the state. In fact, the encroachment of religion into secular activities is strictly prohibited.”
The implementation of the NRC in Assam has been a failed exercise. It was traumatic and expensive for everyone involved, more so for the underprivileged; they had to sell their meager assets like auto-rickshaws, livestock and orchards, mortgaged their lands to obtain documents, and many of those who were unable to produce the required documents were put in detention centres, where the conditions are so dire that several adults and children have died.
We must raise our voice. We need lakhs of signatures to show that Indians are united, and will not support ideas that are against the Constitution of this country. Please sign the petition and share it widely.
#NoNPR/NoNRIC, Peaceful People Action Solidarity Group (PPASG)
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