- Minister of State G Kishan Reddy said no timeline yet for nationwide NRC
- No draft made yet nor has the cabinet approved it, he told NDTV
- Amit Shah had said NRC will be implemented across India before 2024 polls
On a day when India saw massive protests over the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA, a minister from the Narendra Modi government appeared to voice a softer stand on the National Register of Citizens (NRC), conceding that the centre has no immediate plans to roll it out across country.
Union Minister of State (Home) GK Reddy, while accusing opposition parties of fuelling protests against the new citizenship law, said that timelines for implementing a nationwide citizens' list has not yet been worked out and the centre is willing to talk to anyone who does not indulge in violence.
"When it will be brought has not been worked out. There is no draft made yet nor has the cabinet approved it or any legal framework has been worked out," the junior minister told NDTV.
The minister defended the new stance on NRC and said the advertisements released in Hindi and Urdu papers were to dispel false propaganda by opposition parties.
According to Mr Reddy, the rules for the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 have also not been drafted yet and it will take some time before they are issued by the Home Ministry. Before rolling out the rules and regulations for CAA, the centre would hold a dialogue with all stakeholders, he said.
"Once normalcy is restored in the country, centre would be speaking to everyone before taking out CAA draft rules," he said.
The junior minister's statement contradicts those by his senior minister Amit Shah. Earlier this month, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said at an election rally in Jharkhand that NRC will be implemented across the country before the 2024 elections.
"I assure you that before the country goes to polls in 2024 all illegal immigrants will be thrown out," he had said.
The NRC in the context of theCitizenship (Amendment) Act has raised concern that it may be used as an instrument to target Muslims. The citizenship law enables non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to become Indian citizens. Critics say the citizenship exercise NRC will drive out mostly Muslims as the others would have citizenship under the new law.
In Assam, the NRC released in August became controversial as 19 lakh people were left out of the new citizens' list with March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date based on the 1985 Assam Accord. The ruling BJP suffered resentment within when many excluded from the list turned out to be Hindus.