New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and most of his cabinet could be categorised as “doubtful” citizens of India if the National Population Register (NPR) is prepared in its current format, and a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) conducted.
Passing a resolution Friday that called on the central government to withdraw the “NPR-NRC exercise”, Kejriwal pointed out that 61 of Delhi’s 70 MLAs didn’t have birth certificates.
Addressing a special session of the Delhi assembly to discuss the NPR and NRC, CM Kejriwal said neither he, nor his wife and his parents, had birth certificates signed by a government authority. Among his ministers, deputy CM Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain and Kailash Gehlot did not have birth certificates either, he added.
“Only my children have (the certificates) since both were born here in Delhi and the certificates were signed by the respective municipalities,” Kejriwal said.
In its resolution, the assembly said if the NPR is to be carried out, it should be according to the 2010 format — without fresh questions about the name and birthplace of one’s parents. It also called for “stalling NPR-NRC” in the national capital.
AAP MLAs echo Kejriwal’s concerns
Senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai tabled the resolution, saying the majority of Indians would suffer if the NPR was implemented.
The issue of NPR-NRC has been contentious for months now, resulting in protests in Assam that have since spread across the country. Following the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in December, critics have argued that the combination of NRC-NPR-CAA is a lethal government tool that could render many, especially Muslims, stateless.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have repeatedly issued assurances that legitimate citizens of India needn’t worry about the CAA. However, in light of the protests — the most recent resulting in communal riots in Delhi last month — the government is yet to notify rules for the CAA. After repeated references by Shah about a nationwide NRC, both he and PM Modi have denied the controversial proposition is on the table.
Kejriwal, however, said this didn’t mean it won’t come into play. “He (Amit Shah) himself stated earlier that all three are connected and we must understand the chronology,” the CM added.
Several other MLAs, including Raghav Chadha and Jarnail Singh, also stated that their family members didn’t have birth certificates.
“My mother has her birth certificate, but my father doesn’t have his. So, this means even I will be sent to the Assam detention centre,” said Chadha, who represents Rajinder Nagar and made his debut speech in the assembly Friday.
Similarly, Tilak Nagar MLA Singh said only his children had birth certificates. “So, my own family is at the receiving end of this ill-thought proposition,” Singh added.
Okhla MLA Amantullah Khan accused the BJP of making everything a Hindu-Muslim issue, and failing to provide solutions for problems such as unemployment.
Rajendra Pal Gautam, Delhi minister for women and child development, said several people from the Scheduled Castes had claimed they didn’t have the required documents for NRC.
‘Undocumented births happen even today’
Kalkaji MLA Atishi said the central government was attempting to carry out NPR through a backdoor — the 2021 Census.
“The Union government claims that NPR is being carried out under the Census framework. Census is carried out under the law enacted in 1948. Census data is not to be revealed in the public domain. Census law does not have any reference to NPR at all. NPR comes under the Citizenship Act 1955, amended in 2003,” she told the assembly.
Noting that around 80-90 per cent people in the country didn’t have the necessary documents to establish their identity, she pointed out that a lot of childbirths took place outside hospitals even today.
“We want NPR to be stalled not just in Delhi, but across the country,” she said.
“Hindus are being told that they do not need to worry. But actually, Hindus will be the worst sufferers,” Chadha added.
However, the BJP targeted the ruling AAP and questioned why it used the first Vidhan Sabha session after the election to move against the NPR and NRC, and didn’t do anything about it before.
चुनाव जीतने के बाद केजरीवाल का पहला विधानसभा सत्र
दिल्ली में NPR लागू नही करने का प्रस्ताव
"हिम्मत थी तो चुनाव घोषणापत्र में लिखते कि CAA, NPR, NRC का विरोध करेंगे"
"दिल्ली की जनता की पीठ पे खंजर घोपा जा रहा हैं" – कपिल मिश्रा https://t.co/MybEo5hcUt
— Kapil Mishra (@KapilMishra_IND) March 13, 2020
The AAP has on several occasions stated it is against the NRC, but this is the first time it has moved a resolution on the matter.