With the 21-day lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 having entered into force, the Center postponed the litigation update process on Wednesday National Population Register (NPR) and the first phase of the 2021 census.
The list of houses and the enumeration of dwellings for the 2021 Census and the NPR were to be carried out simultaneously from April 1 to September 30.
Since mid-December, there have been numerous protests across the country against the amended Citizenship Act (CAA), the NPR and the National Citizens’ Registry (NRC).
Following the foreclosure, protesters left most of the protest sites, including that of Shaheen Bagh, the national capital.
In a statement, the Interior Ministry said that the 2021 census should take place in two phases: census of houses and census of housing in April-September and the second phase of the population count from February 9 to 28, 2021.
It was proposed that the updating of the NPR be done with phase I of the 2021 census in all the States and territories of the Union, with the exception of Assam.
However, some of the state governments have either adopted resolutions in their respective assemblies or issued orders that they will conduct the NPR based on the 2010 questionnaire and not the revised one.
Interior Minister Amit Shah also assured Parliament that no documents would be requested during the NPR process, marked “D”, or “questionable citizens”. But doubts about the NPR process have remained since the 2003 rules of the Citizenship Act stipulated that the NPR process will be followed by the preparation of a national register of Indian citizens.
It was requested that this be changed and the NRC process provision removed.
The Interior Ministry said on Wednesday that due to the COVID-19 pandemic epidemic, a high alert has been declared by the Center as well as by EU states and territories.
In view of these problems, the first phase of the 2021 census and the updating of the NPR, which was to begin on various dates decided by the governments of the states and of the Union territories from 1 April and various related field activities , are postponed until further notice, the statement said. .
Officials said that since the census and the NPR exercise require investigators to visit each household and meet with people, it is not possible to perform the exercise following isolation. The foreclosure also meant that all government offices, central and state, were asked to close until April 14.
States that have opposed the NPR are Kerala, West Bengal, Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Bihar. They said, however, that they would cooperate with the phase of registering houses for the census.
The objective of the NPR is to create a complete identity database of each usual resident of the country.