Disabled community speaks out against Citizenship Act, NPR & NRC
Prominent disability rights organisations and activists from across India have issued a joint statement rejecting the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) on the grounds that it is discriminatory.
More voices join the opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). Over 45 disability rights organisations and activists from across India have spoken out strongly calling the BJP-led Centre’s move discriminatory and violative of the Indian Constitution.
Exercise violates Indian Constitution
The joint statement is from the office of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD), which represents cross disability groups. It says the CAA will fundamentally alter the character of the Indian Republic.
Indian Citizenship flows from the Constitution of India that grants it as a Fundamental Right. A right cannot be Religion Specific or Country of Origin Specific. We see the CAA, the NPR and the NRC as intricately interconnected, where the NPR will be clearly feeding into the development of the NRC. We are apprehensive about the questions related to parents’ date and place of birth that have been added to the NPR. Many of us, disabled, who for a variety of reasons have been abandoned, dislodged from our homes, homeless, stay in segregated colonies, or are permanently housed in institutions would not be able to provide many of the details asked for in the questionnaire, apart from backing it with valid proofs. – National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled
The process of getting disability certificates is hard enough, point out activists, and the CAA/NRC/NPR exercise will throw up additional barriers and trauma for the disabled community.
Getting disability certificates is hard enough
One of the concerns voiced by the groups is over the process of cross checking with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to verify biometrics. “Experience shows that the problems of mismatch of AADHAR generated biometrics has deprived lakhs of poor and disabled of their entitlements. Additionally, lakhs of disabled have not been able to enrol for Aadhar due to a variety of problems”, says the statement.
The letter says that the exercise will amount to endless trips to concerned offices with proof of citizenship. “Many disabled people do not even have birth certificates leave alone the details of previous generations.”
The Assam NRC exercise has raised major concerns as IDs like birth certificate, Aadhaar, Voter ID, PAN card, and passport were not accepted as proof of citizenship. Spelling errors and cases of mismatch were reported too. People also have to offer proof of status of parents’ citizenship, all of which means endless running round.
“We have experienced severe difficulties and insurmountable hurdles even in procuring disability certificates. Procuring additional certificates in an entirely disabled unfriendly environment means putting us to immense hardships and mental trauma”, say the signatories.
The letter highlights the long-term mental health issues that the process is having and is likely to have on all residents of India. The signatories have extended support to all the movements against the CAA/NPR/NRC exercise.