THE GOVERNMENT said on Wednesday that the questions on the date and place of birth of parents “will be considered dropped” if the respondent does not provide the details during the National Population Register (NPR) updation exercise, as they are supposed to be optional.
Speaking to reporters after the Cabinet meeting, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said: “When I briefed you about NPR, I told you very clearly that there are many questions that are optional. If you remember the place and date of birth of your father and mother, then give it; if you don’t remember, then don’t give it.”
Responding to reports that Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister and leader of BJP ally Lok Janshakti Party, had said the government may consider the demand to remove the questions, Javadekar said: “No, it is not like that… The question will be considered dropped as only those who want to respond will do so.”
Speaking to The Indian Express on Wednesday, Paswan said nobody can be deprived of citizenship just because he/ she does not know his/ her parents’ date and place of birth.
“Jo date of birth hai, kisi vyakti ki hai ya uske mata-pita ki date of birth hai, iske liye document ki aavashyakta nahin honi chahiye aur nahin hogi. Uske karan se koi kisi ka citizenship thode hi le sakta hai. Hum Hindustan me paida huye hai aur humara date of birth maloom nahin hai to kya humara citizenship chala jayega? Sarkar ne bhi baar baar yeh baat kahi hai (Regarding the date of birth, either of the respondent or his/ her parents, no document will be required. Nobody can be deprived of citizenship because of this. If we are born in Hindustan and we don’t know our date of birth, will our citizenship be taken away? The government has also made this clear time and again),” he said.
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“If you don’t know your parents’ date of birth, that column will be left blank. Whatever information you give regarding the date of birth, it will be considered as document. No documentary proof will be required for this,” said Paswan, adding that he, too, did not know the date of birth of his parents.
Meanwhile, Javadekar said that when the then Congress government brought in the NPR in 2010, it was welcomed. “Then, all of you gave the proof… If they bring it, it is good, and when we bring it, it is bad,” he said.
He said the NRC too was brought by the Congress, under then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. “Then, it is good; we did not even bring it, and we are bad,” he said.
On the Supreme Court’s refusal to stay the amended citizenship law without hearing the Centre, Javadekar said: “Whoever protests against a law that provides justice (to refugees who faced religious persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh) can have a different point of view, but the Supreme Court has decided not to give an interim stay”.
He said the provision of “naturalisation” to grant Indian citizenship to foreign nationals in the main Citizenship Act of 1955 still remains. “That provision (of naturalisation) still remains. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act takes note of persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan… the amendment is about giving citizenship and not taking it,” said Javadekar.
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