The clarification comes in the wake of allegations from opposition parties and civic groups that the amended citizenship law and the proposed National Register of Citizens are divisive and discriminatory against Muslims.
Seeking to allay citizenship concerns of a large number of people, government sources said on Thursday that one can prove Indian nationality by submitting any document related to his date of birth and its place, and there will be “absolutely no compulsion” to submit any document by his parents during any such exercise.
An explainer shared by official sources said no document will be required for anybody’s pre-1971 genealogy as such a condition was specific to the NRC exercise in Assam and asserted that it will be sufficient to provide one’s details of birth like date and place in any future nationwide NRC.
The clarification comes in the wake of allegations from opposition parties and civic groups that the amended citizenship law and the proposed National Register of Citizens are divisive and discriminatory against Muslims. Protests have been going on in various parts of the country against the law.
Sources said the NRC, as and when it is implemented, has nothing to do with any religion and will be for every citizen of India as it is a citizen register in which names of every Indian will be recorded.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act is a separate law and the NRC is a separate process, they said, adding that the CAA has come into force nationwide after its passage from Parliament, while the NRC rules and procedures for the country are yet to be decided.
Home Minister Amit Shah had recently asserted in Parliament that NRC would be rolled out across the country but the government has so far not made any announcement on its timing.
The explainer said if somebody is “illiterate” and has no documents, witness and community verification will be allowed during any such exercise to ensure that no Indian citizen is troubled. Citizenship can be proved by submitting any documents related to date of birth and place of birth, it said, adding that a decision is yet to be taken on such acceptable documents.
“This is likely to include voter cards, passports, Aadhaar, licenses, insurance papers, birth certificates, school leaving certificates, documents relating to land or home or other similar documents issued by government officials. The list is likely to include more documents so that no Indian citizen has to suffer unnecessarily,” it said.
The explainer said the NRC is merely a normal process to register one’s name in the citizens’ register. Just like people present their identity cards or any other document for registering names in the voter list or getting Aadhaar card made, similar documents need to be provided for the NRC as and when it is carried out, it said.
Noting that a person’s citizenship is decided on the basis of the Citizenship Rules, 2009, it said there are five ways for somebody to become a citizen, which are citizenship by birth, registration, naturalization, and incorporation.
Responding to a question that if it is so easy to prove identity, then how 19 lakh people in Assam were affected due to the NRC, the explainer said infiltration is an old problem in the state and the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1985 had signed an agreement to curb it, putting the cut-off date of 25 March 1971.
“For the rest of the country, the NRC process is completely different and under The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003,” it said. Rejecting speculation that people will have to present old documents to prove their citizenship, it said “common documents” will only be required to prove identity.
“When the NRC is announced at the national level, then rules and instructions will be made for it in such a way that no one will face any trouble. The government has no intention of harassing its citizens or putting them in trouble,” it said. It also asserted that any NRC will not exclude anyone for being transgender, atheist, adivasi, Dalit, or landless without documents.