The National Executive Council of Popular Front of India, in a statement issued after its meeting held at Bengaluru on 15 March 2020, has urged the Home Minister Amit Shah to come forward with necessary amendments to the relevant sections of the existing Citizenship Rules and the notifications issued regarding the forthcoming the Census linked NPR exercise. Unless until such statutory and operational changes are made forthwith, the promise made by him on the floor of Rajya Sabha could only be viewed as an attempt to confuse and mislead the concerned Indian citizens who on the path of agitations against CAA-NRC-NPR.
Better late than never, if hate politics is replaced with political wisdom, it is a welcome sign. The Home Minister has reportedly tried to address the fears and anxieties of millions of citizens across the country regarding the scheduled Census 2021 House Listing procedures and NPR data collection. He has assured in the Rajya Sabha on 12th March 2020 that no document will be collected, that no one will be asked to provide information they don't want to provide and that no one will be categorized as 'doubtful citizens'.
However the above verbal assurance is not going to settle the issue unless until they are made legal by making amendment to relevant rules related to NPR. If the central government take people's sentiments seriously and plans to carry out Census with their co-operation without NPR, the Citizenship Rules such as 3 (5), 4 (3), 4 (4), (b), 6 (a), (b), (c) of 2003 Citizenship (Amendment) Act pertaining to the preparation of the NPR and the identification of “doubtful” be removed with immediate effect. Along with the amended Rules, the notifications and procedural instructions passed to lower administrative levels about the NPR linked Census House Listing process should be changed accordingly.
It speaks volumes that the Home Minister has not made any commitment in the House to the effect that the rules and notifications will be changed before 1 April 2020, the date of commencement of Census-cum-NPR field operations. In spite of the reminders for the same by many civil rights groups, the central government has preferred to remain in silence so far. This attitude of total neglect of civil society concerns also put shadow of suspicion on their real government intentions.
Popular Front and other civil rights organisations had on multiple times pointed out that National Population Register (NPR) is the preliminary step towards making the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC). That is why the organization made the call for boycotting NPR and opposed linking of NPR with Census. Most of the opposition parties, people’s organisations and about half of the state governments have expressed their disagreement with NPR and linking it with Census operations. The NEC of Popular Front of India has cautioned the people not to get confused and misled by mere verbal rhetoric and to remain steadfast in Boycott decision in the present context.