More than 1,000 women from across India have written to state chief ministers requesting to de-link the National Population Register (NPR) from Census house listing maintaining that it presents a “clear danger to women”.
The letter reads, “Women, irrespective of caste and religious community, will be hugely affected by the NPR-NRIC (National Register of Indian Citizens) citizenship regime being rolled out by the Central government, that puts all our citizenship rights to test, in an arbitrary and frightening manner. The combination of the NPR and NRIC will force each person to prove their citizenship, and disproportionately put at risk the women, the weakest, and the most marginal people of our country”.
The updation of the NPR is scheduled to begin from April 1, 2020 along with house listing for the Census of India, 2021. The letter has been signed by activists, writers, academics, lawyers, doctors, farmers, professionals, anganwadi workers and women from all walks of life from more than 20 states and has been sent to chief ministers of all states.
The letter, released on Tuesday evening, reads, “We write to you as Indian women who are opposed to the National Population Register (NPR). Women constitute nearly 50% of India’s population, and this opposition is based on clear evidence from our own lives.”
The fear from women stems from the facts that most women do not have land or property in their names, have lower literacy rates, and leave their natal homes upon marriage with no documents in tow. In Assam, for instance, a vast majority of the 19 lakh left out of the NRC are women.
The letter also calls into question Home Minister Amit Shah’s remark that no one shall be marked “doubtful” during the NPR exercise. It states, “Section 14 A of the Citizenship Act, the accompanying 2003 Rules, and official reports of the Ministry of Home Affairs, all provide for using NPR data to compile the National Register of Indian Citizens...The NRIC will be prepared by local registrars scrutinizing information of individuals in the Population Register and marking people as ‘Doubtful Citizens’. While the Home Minister on March 12, 2020 stated in Parliament that no one will be marked “doubtful”, this assurance carries no legal sanctity, until the relevant statutes and rules are formally amended.”
The signatories to the letter have asked that the sanctity of the Census operations be protected and for that chief ministers of every state must de-link the NPR and the Census, sending enumerators out only with the census schedule. While many states have passed resolutions in the Legislative Assembly opposing CAA, NRC, NPR, unless specific executive orders are issued to de-link the NPR and census which is set to be rolled out from April 1, the resolutions will only remain a statement of expression. Each state government must issue executive orders to de-link NPR and census immediately, the letter says.