Two separate documents released by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) within three months have different versions over connection between National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC), with one saying the former a first step towards creation of latter while the other clarifying "no such proposal" linking the two exercises.
The first document came in October this year while the other shared by the MHA "off the record" recently after opposition parties tried to corner the Centre when the Union Cabinet on Tuesday gave its approval to the updation of NPR, calling the move a "new avatar which invades the right to privacy".
One of the documents says, "NPR is the first step towards the creation of National Register of Indian Citizen (NRIC)" while the other clarifies: "At present there is no proposal to create NRC in the country based on NPR data".
The first one is the annual report of MHA which was released in October. The report, in its 273rd page of Chapter 15, clearly mentions that government of India has approved a scheme of creation of NPR in the country by collecting specific information of all usual residents and that it is the "first step towards the creation of National Register of Indian Citizen (NRIC)".
It, however, has mentioned that the demographic data for NPR collected in 2010 has been updated in 2015 and biometric enrolment of 33.43 crore persons has also been done under the scheme.
"The RG&CCI (Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India) also discharges the statutory function of the Registrar General of Citizens Registration (RGCR) under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003," the annual report said.
The report's page number 262 also mentions that the "NPR is the first step towards the creation of the NRIC under the provisions of the aforementioned statute that include Housing and Population Census, Civil Registration System and Sample Registration System".
The latest document in which the MHA mentions usage and benefit of NPR says it is a "creation of credible register of every family and individual". "It is a register of residents linked with location particulars such as village or town, sub-district and state, and for strengthening the security".
"At present there is no proposal to create NRC in the country based on NPR data," it further said.
It, however, mentioned that no biometric and other documents are being collected at the time of door-to-door enumeration and the purpose is of improving delivery mechanism of benefits under various government schemes and programmes.
"By linking NPR with registration of birth and death, real time population register will be available leading to register-based census in future. The NPR data can be used for transparent and efficient delivery of social benefits by linking it with various beneficiary-oriented government schemes."
It says that that NPR will benefit in government schemes such as: financial, education, agriculture, registration of land and property, national security, health and medical services, Public Distribution System (PDS), gender issues (child marriage, marital status, maintenance of separated women), employment, disaster management, disability, old age pension and freedom fighter.
The document says that Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) is based on the NPR data, which was subsequently used for deciding different types of beneficiaries.
Household-wise NPR data was used in better targeting of schemes such as Ayushman Bharat, Jan Dhan Yojana, Prime Minister Awas Yojana, Ujjwala Yojana and Saubhagya Yojana, the document says.
"The NPR household date was also provided to various state governments like Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Odisha, Manipur for Sarvam, PDS scheme, and Rajasthan for Bhamashah."
The latest report was shared when the opposition parties hit out at the Centre linking NPR with NRC.
The Opposition is leaving no stone unturned to attack the Central government over NPR, though the government has also clarified that the NPR originated in 2010 during UPA's rule and has nothing to do with the NRC, the Congress maintains that NPR was entirely different and the 2020 NPR is intended to lead to the contentious NRC.
The Congress alleged that the government is trying to bring in the NRC "in the guise of the NPR" and that NPR is the first step of the final NRC.
Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav said that the Modi government could not achieve its goal through the NRC, but will now do the same through the NPR. The CPI (M) urged the Chief Ministers who have announced their opposition to the NRC to stop the NPR exercise in their states.
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