The State government on Monday decided to inform the Centre that it was hard-pressed to cooperate with the work related to the drawing up and revision of the National Population Register (NPR). However, Kerala would fully cooperate with Census 2021. Earlier, Kerala had joined West Bengal in suspending all work on the NPR.
The special Cabinet, which convened here, concluded that the people were deeply concerned that the NPR, a biometric roster of citizens, was a precursor to the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The highly controversial NRC was purportedly an extension of the NPR. The NRC envisaged a taluk registrar of citizen registration to oversee the preparation of the list of ‘Indian citizens’ at the sub-district level to exclude people of ‘doubtful citizenship’ from the safety and welfare net of the State.
The Cabinet said any move to implement the NPR against the backdrop of the NRC would cause deep insecurity in Kerala and adversely affect the law and order situation.
The State government was constitutionally bound to allay the fears of the people and uphold public peace. Hence, the State was constrained to inform the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Union Ministry of Home Affairs, that it could not collaborate with the preparation of the NPR.
The government said District Collectors had reported that any move to link the Census process with the NPR would trigger law and order issues.
The Cabinet’s decision is consistent with the political position of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the NPR were the two sides of the same coin and patently anti-Muslim.