The Ministry of Home Affairs Tuesday clarified in Parliament that the government has not yet decided on implementing the National Register of Citizens (NRC) across the country. In a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai, said, “Till now, the government has not taken any decision to prepare (NRIC) at the national level.” The clarification comes amid protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act – the new law, which the government had said, will be followed by NRC.
The remark is a departure from comments made by senior ministers and party leaders, including Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP working president J P Nadda. The BJP’s manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections also promised NRC in “other parts of the country in a phased manner”.
But Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at a rally in Jharkhand, had said his government had not discussed pan-India NRC exercise. The Prime Minister had also denied that there are any detention centres in the country, saying these were lies being spread by the “Congress, its allies, some educated Naxals and urban Naxals”.
The Prime Minister’s statement was reiterated later by Home Minister Amit Shah in interviews given to news agency ANI and ABP news channel, who said that NPR data would not be used for NRC. The Home Ministry issued a statement saying, “There is no proposal at present to conduct a nationwide NRC based on the NPR data.”
Explained: Why NPR isn’t NRC
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register of all Indian citizens whose creation is mandated by the 2003 amendment of the Citizenship Act, 1955. Its purpose is to document all the legal citizens of India so that the illegal migrants can be identified and deported.
In the NRC exercise adopted in Assam, names of over 19 lakh applications were excluded from the final list released last year. Protests erupted across the country in December last year after the citizenship law was introduced and passed in Parliament. The Cabinet later cleared over Rs 3,900 crore for a National Population Register (NPR). Coming in the backdrop of protests over the CAA and NRC, the NPR is being seen by many as the first step towards the NRC, while the Centre has sought to delink the two.
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