Officials don’t know how to act if people refuse census info

Several district officials in Karnataka have expressed concerns over lack of clarity from the census authorities on how to respond if people refuse to share information for the NPR. They say that a suspicion prevails among sections of people over ...

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Bengaluru: With just about a month left for phase I of the Census and National Population Register (NPR) update exercise to begin, several district officials in Karnataka have expressed concerns over lack of clarity from the census authorities on how to respond if people refuse to share information for the NPR. The house-listing phase of Census and updating of NPR will be rolled out simultaneously on April 15 in the BJP-ruled state.

At a meeting held in the presence of Karnataka Chief Secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar and a senior Census operations official in Bengaluru on Saturday, heads of various districts (deputy commissioners) — who will be leading the Census and NPR work — have raised concerns over the possible non-cooperation from people, ET has learnt.

They say that suspicion among sections of people over gathering data for the yet-to-be unveiled National Register of Citizens (NRC) following enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has hurt even their routine work of implementing government schemes.


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Several district officials briefed the Census authorities about the sentiments among sections of people against the NPR, which they said could even affect the Census work.

They said there were no clear guidelines or directives from the Census authorities on how to respond to people when they refuse to disclose information. Following the resistance and protest over CAA and NRC, the Union home ministry has maintained that it is not mandatory for people to share information in the NPR questionnaire that has a total of 21 questions.
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The introduction of six additional questions has triggered a storm and several state governments and sections of citizens have been demanding a revert to the old format with 15 questions.

Some deputy commissioners are said to have conveyed that they lacked clarity on how enumerators should act when people refuse to share the information.

“The law mandates people to share true information to the best of their knowledge. If people knowingly refuse to disclose details, should we impose a penalty? Is it even practical to impose a penalty since the number of people who may not give information could be large?” one of the district officials told ET.

Some district officials have even pointed out to Census authorities that they do not have access to enough material about NPR to even print and share pamphlets with people before the exercise begins.
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While the Census officials apparently did not come up with a convincing reply at the meeting, they have only promised to work on specific guidelines to clear the air.

Karnataka Census operations director Vijay Kumar SB was not available for comment.
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