Govt hasn’t taken decision on nationwide NRC yet: MoS (Home) Nityanand Rai tells Lok Sabha
New Delhi: 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 (NRC) 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 Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP President JP 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.” 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.
Love Jihad not defined, not peported by central agencies
The term ‘Love Jihad’ is not defined under existing laws and no case has been reported by any central agency, the government said in parliament today.
This is the first time the government has officially distanced itself from “Love Jihad”, the term used by rightwing groups to target relationships between Muslim men and Hindi women, which, they say, is an elaborate ruse to forcibly convert the women.
Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy quoted Article 25 of the constitution and said it provided for the freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.
“The term ‘Love Jihad’ is not defined under the extant laws. No such case of ‘Love Jihad’ has been reported by any of the central agencies,” he said in a reply to a written question.
Various courts, including the Kerala High Court, have confirmed this view.
The minister said, however, that two cases from Kerala involving “inter-faith marriage” had been investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The home ministry was responding to a question by a Congress leader from Kerala, Benny Behanan, on whether any central agency had reported any case of love jihad in the coastal state in the last two years.
Interestingly, several suspected cases of elopement were investigated by various investigating agencies in Kerala and tagged as “Love Jihad”.
The most famous among them was the Hadiya case in 2018. The Supreme Court had to step in and declare Kerala woman Hadiya, 25, free to live with her husband after the High Court cancelled her marriage to a Muslim man on the request of her father.
Last month, an influential Catholic Church in Kerala propagated that “Love Jihad is a reality” and alleged that scores of Christian women were being lured by the terror outfit ISIS and used in terror activities.
No document to be collected during NPR exercise: Centre
The government on Tuesday made it clear that no document will be collected during the updation of the National Population Register (NPR) and providing Aadhaar number during the exercise is only voluntary.
The government is in discussion with the states having concerns with regard to the preparation of the NPR.
The demographic and other particulars of each family and individual are to be updated/collected during the exercise of updation of NPR. Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai also said an instruction manual for updation of NPR 2020 for enumerators and supervisors has been prepared and the people will have to provide information for the NPR to the best of their knowledge and belief. “No document is to be collected during the updation of NPR,” he said replying a written question.