West Bengal: Mamata government stays all work on NPR amidst anti-CAA protests; but what does it mean?
Mamata Banerjee government stayed work on the National Population Register citing the “interest of public order”, but what does that mean? Can the state government stay a process which stems from a central act? Find out below.
The West Bengal government on Monday stayed all activities regarding the preparation and updation of the National Population Register (NPR) in the state.
The NPR is the base document to prepare the proposed nationwide-National Register of Citizens (NRC). The National Population Register would create a list of all the residents of the country. And then the National Register of Citizens would take that list and identify people of “doubtful citizenship” and probe their citizenship from a certain date.
Though the date has not been fixed yet, many civil rights activists welcomed the government’s decision.
Awesome. West Bengal becomes the first state to stop NPR activities. It's now other states turn. Immediately stop all NPR activities. NPR is nothing but the first step of NRC. #Resistance #NoToCAB #NoToNRC #NoToNPR https://t.co/t2fONV2Gg4— Kannan Gopinathan (@naukarshah) December 17, 2019
A notice issued by the Additional Secretary to the Census Cell of the Home and Hill Affairs Department directed all the District Magistrates, along with the Commissioners of the Howrah and Kolkata Municipal Corporations, to not take up any activity regarding the NPR without clearance from the state government.
(The order copy sourced from social media)
This notice automatically revokes an earlier order when the government departments were instructed to list the names of junior officials to compile the NPR.
Though many have raised questions on how the state government can stay the NPR process, which stems from a cental Act; a senior official from the West Bengal government told Asiaville that "the state government has just stayed the process, it has not stopped it. So the government can say that it's a matter of administrative priority."
"The state government can very well choose to prioritise or not priiritise certain processes on its own. So from that point of view, the 'unconstitutional debate' doesn't hold ground. Also the letter is addressed to the District Magistrates and Municipality Commissioners; and the state government has every right to notify the officers under it to not start a process without its permission," the official added.
Civil rights activists describe the NPR as the first step to initiate the National Register of Citizens; which has been strongly opposed by the Mamata government.
On Monday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee led a massive protest march against the citizenship amendments and vowed not to implement the legislation in the state.
The only oppn politician who has understood how to play CAA NRC politics is @MamataOfficial . Making it rich Vs poor, not Hindu Vs Muslim by focusing on NRC and what may become ‘demonetisation of citizenship’: poor will stand in line for documents; rich will get away easily.— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) December 17, 2019
“As long as I am alive, we will not implement NRC and CAB,” she had said. “They can dismiss our government if they want. We will not surrender.” Banerjee also assured that “no one will be ousted from the state”.
Opposition party CPI(M) welcomed the decision of staying the NPR process. But BJP, which has emerged as TMC’s primary opposition in the state, called the decision “unconstitutional” and a bid to “appease Muslim voters”.