Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India has clarified that the government has not taken any decision to create an India-wide National Citizens’ Register and also said the detention center being constructed in Assam is not just for housing detainees under NRC.
The clarification over the Assam center came after much controversy over the massive, under-construction detention center in Goalpora near Guwahati in Assam, with opposition parties alleging that it is for housing people detected under the National Register of Citizens scheme, and the government denying that NRC detentions centers are being set up.
“There are rumors being spread that all Muslims in India will be sent to detention centers,” Modi said at a rally on December 22. “I want to assure the youth of India that the rumors being spread by the Congress and urban naxals about detention centers are wrong, wrong, wrong,” Modi added.
However, media continued with ‘fact checks’ on Modi’s speech and teams of reporters being sent to the spot to report on the massive detention center being constructed by the Assam government at a cost of around Rs 50 cr.
Member of Parliament from Assam, Pradyut Bordoloi, therefore took the opportunity to ask the Home Ministry for a clear-cut reply on whether the government “has constructed detention centres/camps in Assam to detain those who don”t have documents proving their citizenship under NRC”.
In response, the Home Ministry state as follows:
“As per the information received from State Government of Assam, the State Government has not constructed any detention camp in Assam exclusively to detain those who do not have documents proving their citizenship under National Register of Citizens (NRIC).”
The reply from the Home Ministry indicates that the camp is likely to be used to detain foreigners detected under NRC, but may also be used for detaining other prisoners.
Interestingly, the home ministry today clarified — in response to a different question — that no decision has been taken to conduct a nation-wide NRC.
“Till now, the government has not taken any decision to prepare National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) at the national level,” the ministry said, in response to a question by two MPs, Chandan Singh and NN Rao, on whether the government “has any plan to introduce National Register of Citizens all over the country”.
NRC was originally carried out in Assam in 1951 to prepare a list of persons who were residents of the province at the time.
Later, the government agreed to include all migrants to the state before a cut-off date in 1971 into the NRC. Those who came to escape the war in Bangladesh after the cut-off date were to be sent back to Bangladesh.
However, events took a different turn when BJP President Amit Shah, who was promoted to Home Minister after the party’s victory in May 2019, stated that his government intended to carry out a similar exercise across India, and complete it by 2024.
This led to massive fears among people — particularly those who were not from landed classes — as other states did not have NRC dating back to 1951 like in Assam.
As such, citizens outside Assam would not be able to point to their father’s or grandfather’s names in any NRC from 1951 as proof that they are from India.
They would have to rely on other documents — such as land records or government service records dating back to the government’s cut-off date — to prove so.
In response, the official spokesperson of the Home Ministry was forced to issue a clarification denying such rumors. “Indian citizens do not have to prove any ancestry by presenting documents like identity cards, birth certificates etc of parents/grand parents dating back to pre-1971 situation. #CAA2019,” she said in a tweet that was deleted soon after.