Won’t ask for proof of being Indian under NRC, says MHA

Won’t ask for proof of being Indian under NRC, says MHA

In the first big move to allay concerns around the national register of citizens, the Home Ministry on Friday declared that the documentation to establish citizenship wouldn’t be as stringent as it was for the exercise in Assam that excluded 1.9 million people.

“It would be sufficient for you to provide the details of your birth such as date of birth, month, year and place of birth,” the Home Ministry said in a 13-point FAQ issued late on Friday evening. Those who do not have details about their birth would have to share information about their parents.

“But there is absolutely no compulsion to submit any document by/of the parents. Citizenship can be proved by submitting any documents related to date of birth and place of birth,” the government said.

This is the first time that the Home Ministry has tweeted clarifications to questions around the national register of citizens. But it hasn’t been placed yet on the Press Information Bureau’s official website yet.

The FAQ said the documents that are “likely” to be included are “voter cards, passports, Aadhaar, licences, insurance papers, birth certificates, school leaving certificates, documents relating to land or home or other similar documents”.

But this list is illustrative. “However, a decision is yet to be taken on such acceptable documents,” it said, adding that the final list of acceptable documents could be longer “so that no Indian citizen has to suffer unnecessarily”.

NRC, it said, is merely a normal process to register your name in the Citizens’ Register.

“Just like we present our identity cards or any other document for registering our names in the voter list or getting Aadhaar Card made, similar documents shall need to be provided for NRC, as and when it is carried out,” the document said.

India’s only experience with a citizens’ register has been with Assam where 1.9 million people have been excluded. The FAQs said Assam was a different case in light of the NRC’s peculiar circumstances in this state.

“Infiltration is an old problem in Assam. To curb it, there was a movement and in 1985, the then Rajiv Gandhi government, to identify the intruders, had to enter into an agreement to prepare NRC, assuming the cut-off date of 25 March 1971,” it said.

A key concern expressed by activists and opposition leaders including Congress President Sonia Gandhi has been that the NRC documentation would be so stringent that it would leave out the poor and disadvantaged.

To a question “what if a person is illiterate and does not have relevant documents’, the ministry responded: “In this case, the authorities will allow that person to bring a witness. Also, other evidence and community verification etc. will also be allowed. A proper procedure will be followed. No Indian Citizen will be put in undue trouble”.

The government, however, questioned the assumption that the poor do not have any means of identification. It said they too are beneficiaries of one central scheme or the other and the government would use this information to establish citizenship.