No plan on nationwide NRC yet; will update NPR: Government
The Home Ministry on Tuesday informed Parliament that the government has not yet taken any decision to prepare the National Register of Indian Citizens at the national level. However, the government has decided to update the National Population Register (NPR) along with the first phase of the 2021 Census, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai told the Lok Sabha.
Rai informed the Lok Sabha that the updation of NPR was mainly "postponed" due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Clarifying that no document is to be collected while updating NPR, the minister said, "The demographic and other particulars of each family and individual were to be updated/collected during the exercise of the updation of the NPR. No document is to be collected during this exercise."
While many people fear that the NPR is a precursor to the NRC, Home Minister Amit Shah has maintained that they are different processes. The NPR is a list of "usual residents," which includes both Indian and foreign citizens. "It is possible that some names are missed in the NPR, still their citizenship will not be revoked because this is not...NRC," Shah had said.
In fact, the NRC updation process in Assam has been in limbo since the ruling BJP claimed that many illegal immigrants got enrolled through forged documents. The state government had filed a petition before the Supreme Court for 20% re-verification in the border districts and 10% in the others, albeit to no avail. The final NRC list excluded over 19 lakh of the 3.29 crore applicants.
The NRC was prepared in Assam for the first time during the 1951 Census. However, demand for its updation gained momentum as many sociopolitical organizations of the state expected it to solve the influx of Bangladeshi immigrants that has been prevalent in Assam for quite some time. The exercise was commenced in 2015 under the supervision of the Supreme Court.
Further, Rai mentioned in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that the Centre has no accurate data on migrants in the country since they enter "without valid travel documents in a surreptitious manner." "There are reports about some Rohingya migrants indulging in illegal activities," Rai said. The Centre has issued instructions to states/union territories regarding prompt steps for the identification of illegal immigrants, he added.