NPR: Days after Modi says NRC word hasn’t been uttered, Cabinet clears Rs 3,900 crore for first step


Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP President Amit Shah during a press briefing at the party headquarter in New Delhi on May 17. PHOTO/PTI

On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a rally in Delhi that the National Register of Citizens hasn’t even been brought up once since he came to power, which was as an outright lie, considering how often Home Minister Amit Shah has promised one. On Tuesday, the Union Cabinet approved Rs 3,900 crore for the updating of the National Population Register – which the Census of India website describes as “the first step towards the creation of a National Register of Citizens”.

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar announced the step in a press briefing after the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Javadekar insisted that the National Population Register was an initiative of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, and claimed that the government has no plans at the moment to carry out the NRC.

“NPR was started under the UPA in 2010, in 2015 it was updated,” he said. “In 2020 it will be done again. No proof or document is required, only information is needed. We trust the public.” Javadekar also claimed that no list of doubtful citizens would be created under the NPR and lumped the process in along with the Census, which is carried out every decade.

Yet Javadekar’s comments are unlikely to reassure anyone worried by the Citizenship Act-NRC-NPR combination that has sparked protests around the country over the last two weeks, in the belief that they will be used to harass Indian Muslims. There is no sign of the demonstrations slowing down.

There are two reasons for this:


The government and BJP have constantly resorted to muddled messaging and misiniformation on the matter. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has contradicted Home Minister Amit Shah. The BJP has differed with both of them. Official government releases seem to have no actual value.

There is a general belief that these mixed messages are deliberate, in the hopes of blunting the protests that have gone nationwide. Yet this also means that no single statement of the government can be trusted, when the laws on paper allow for something else completely.

As Shoaib Daniyal explained in this investigation by, the National Population Register is the first step for the National Register of Citizens. The entire aim of the population register is to create a list of Indian residents, and then use that to create a list of Indian citizens as well as a separate of those considered “doubtful”. It is not the same as the Census, even though the government has repeatedly tried to tie the two together.

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