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‘Citizens have option of not sharing information’: Centre at NPR meet amid concerns

The meeting, which will continue on Saturday, will not be attended by Kerala and West Bengal.

SNS | New Delhi |

The Centre has reportedly stated that citizens have the option of not sharing information, which they do not wish to, in the National Population Register (NPR) form.

This came as officials of some non-BJP-ruled states on Friday asked the Registrar General of India (RGI) to remove the column on “place of birth of mother and father” in the proposed NPR to be updated by the Centre between April 1, 2020, and September 30, 2020.

“If someone does want to share any information regarding any issue, it is up to that person. He has the option of not sharing it,” Minister of State for Home Affairs GK Reddy was quoted as saying by NDTV.

Amid concerns, a meeting of Chief Secretaries of states and Census directors, chaired by MoS Home Nityanand Rai and Union Home Secretary AK Bhalla, was held on Friday at the Ambedkar Bhawan in Delhi to discuss the next census and the National Population Register (NPR).

All states except West Bengal attended the meeting that was convened to discuss the modalities of the Census and NPR beginning April 1.

The meeting is aimed at helping the Central Government seek suggestions from state representatives on the NPR. The appointment, training of census officials in-charge, district officers and sub-divisional level officers are expected to be discussed in detail.

The conference comes amid reservations expressed by some states against NPR, citing its link with National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The meeting will continue on Saturday too.

Meanwhile, Kerala, which was present at the meeting on Friday, will skip it along with West Bengal on Saturday.

Under the NPR, a census will be conducted from house to house across the country from April 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020, in all the states/union territories, except Assam. Then, Population Enumeration will be conducted from February 9 to February 28, 2021.

According to MHA sources quoted by IANS, PAN card details being asked during National Population Register (NPR) 2020 Pretest have been removed from the list of a questionnaire to be prepared for the final exercise and a new question seeking information about “mother tongue” has been added to it.

The decision was taken by the Registrar General of India (RGI) after witnessing people showing “hesitation” while sharing PAN card details to the enumerators during the Pretest of the exercise conducted between August 12 and September 30, 2019.

Also, this time, the National Population Register will include 21 fields including father’s and mother’s places of birth, last place of residence along with other information like Aadhaar (optional), Voter ID card, mobile phone and driving license numbers.

In 2010 and 2015, the exercise involved 14 parameters.

The NPR initiative started in 2010 under the Manmohan Singh government. The data was updated in 2015 by conducting a door-to-door survey.

Amid nationwide tension and massive protests against the Citizenship Act, West Bengal and Kerala governments have reportedly stopped work on NPR.

The NPR, since it is linked to the Census, is seen as the first step towards a nationwide exercise to implement the National Register of Citizens.