There is confusion over the addition of new questions to NPR. While the opposition is floating all kinds of theories about it, the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a clarification on this matter. Home Minister Amit Shah had said that the new register announced this time has included some new points. “In the new NPR, people have to answer seven easy questions. In the NPR that was made in 2010, only 15 questions were asked, but this one has 21 questions, the answers to which will be recorded in the register,” Shah said.
The new questions that have been added to the NPR include the person’s last place of residence, passport number, parents’ date of birth and place of birth.
Meanwhile, amidst the confusion over the questions asked of the people during the new registration exercise, the home ministry has made it clear that the list of questions has not been prepared yet. According to the ministry, some questions were definitely included during the training of census workers.
However, “some people are trying to spread confusion about NPR based on these questions,” the MHA said amid posts on social media that changes have been made in the new population register.
Detractors of the Narendra Modi government are calling the additional questions a prelude to the NRC. But according to a senior home ministry official, the list of questions to be asked during NPR is still being finalised. “Only when it is ready will it be known what the questions are. Keep in mind that NPR work will run from April to September 2020. However, it has already been clarified that no documents will be sought at the time of registration,” an officer told Sirf News.
Parents’ birth date and place of birth were not collected in 2010 for the then register. This exercise, the opposition fears, is meant to identify illegal migrants they have sought to protect since the time when there was a nationwide debate on the National Register for Citizens (NRC). Under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, for those born after 1987, at least one guardian must be a citizen of India.
The new register will collect information like one’s last place of residence, passport number, Aadhaar ID, voter ID card number, driving licence number and mobile phone number, questions not asked before. The parents’ names and the spouse’s name are clubbed in one field to accommodate the new description.
The government has decided to update the NPR, approving a cost of Rs 8,500 crore for the exercise.
Meanwhile, Shah had said on Tuesday that there was no talk of NRC yet. In an interview to news agency ANI, after the government approved updating the NPR at a cost of Rs 3,941 crore, he said that there was no connection between this registration and the NRC. “I am saying this clearly again,” the home minister asserted.
“NPR is the register of India’s population, on the basis of which plans are made whereas the NRC asks people on what basis they are citizens of the country. The two processes are not connected. NPR data cannot be used for NRC,” Shah said. He added that this registration would be the basis for deciding the beneficiaries of various government schemes.
However, in 2014, then MoS (Home) Kiren Rijiju had said in the Rajya Sabha, “The NPR is the first step towards the creation of the National Register of Indian Citizens by verifying the citizenship status of every usual resident.”
It will be mandatory for all citizens of the country to register their names in the new NPR. However, the population register, CAA and NRC are three separate exercises, the MHA now insists. This register will be an account of who lives where, the ministry says.
In 2010, the UPA government led by Manmohan Singh had taken the initiative to form the NPR. After that, work on the register started before the 2011 Census. Now that the census is to be held again in 2021, work on the registration exercise must start soon.
Out of the NPR, CAA and NRC, “only through NRC is the identification of people living illegally in the country possible, but in the NPR, people living for 6 months or more at the same place will have to be registered”, a source in the MHA said.
If a person is an outsider but has been staying in one place for six months or more, it will be mandatory to get him registered in the NPR, the source said. The main objective of the new registration is to prepare a biometric data of citizens of the entire country to identify the real beneficiaries of government schemes, the officer added.
7 new fields in the NPR form
- Last place of residence
- Passport number
- Aadhaar ID
- Voter ID card number
- Driving license number
- Mobile phone number
- Parents’ names and spouse’s name
The older NPR sought the following information
- Name of Person
- Relationship to head
- Father’s name
- Mother’s name
- Spouse’s name (if married)
- Date of Birth
- Marital Status
- Place of Birth
- Nationality as declared
- Present address of usual residence
- Duration of stay at present address
- Permanent residential address
- Educational qualification