Given that the updation of the National Population Register (NPR) is scheduled to begin from April 1, 2020 along with house listing for the Census of India 2021, prominent women rights activists, including Annie Raja, Farah Naqvi, Anjali Bhardwaj, Vani Subramanian, Meera Sanghmitra, Mariam Dhawle and Poonam Kaushik released a letter at Delhi’s Press Club, that was sent this morning to every Chief Minister in the country by over one thousand signatories. The signatories include activists, writers, academics, lawyers, doctors, farmers, professionals, anganwadi workers and women from all walks of life from more than 20 states.
The letter said, “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.”
Speaking at the Press Conference, Annie Raja said that, “Women often 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, a vast majority of the 19 lakh, left out of the NRC, are women. That is the reality.”
“All women, irrespective of caste and religious community, will be affected by this new NPR-NRIC citizenship regime that puts our citizenship to test in a totally arbitrary and frightening manner” said Farah Naqvi. And women and children from adivasi communities, dalit women, muslim women, migrant labourers, small farmers, the landless, domestic workers, sex workers and transgender persons, asked to ‘prove’ citizenship, will all be at grave risk of being disenfranchised.”
Anjali Bhardwaj spoke of Section 14 A of the Citizenship Act, and the accompanying 2003 Rules, which clearly provide for using NPR data to compile the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC), and give local registrars the power to mark people as ‘doubtful citizens.’ She said the Home Minister’s March 12 statement in Parliament that no will be marked “doubtful”, carries no legal sanctity, until the relevant statutes and rules are formally amended.
Speakers at the Press Conference said that to protect the sanctity of the Census operations, women from across India have asked Chief Ministers of every state to 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, they said.
Two states- Kerala and West Bengal have issued executive orders, staying the roll out of the NPR, while Rajasthan and Jharkhand have given orders only for the roll out of the census from April 1, 2020. The speakers welcomed the action taken by these states.
The text of the letter sent to all the Chief Ministers and the afore-mentioned orders/notification by states can be accessed at- https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/17jnovR4wTYBw9p7nTLiFJIMYO-6Agh6w?usp=sharing
Signed/- Annie Raja, Farah Naqvi, Anjali Bhardwaj, Vani Subramanian, Meera Sanghmitra, Mariam Dhawle and Poonam Kaushik