23:41 GMT22 February 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): India’s federal government has gone ahead with a head count of its citizens, held every 10 years, despite opposition from several state governments, opposition political parties and human rights activists, linking it to a recently enacted citizenship law and National Register of Citizens (NRC).

    A three-member health worker group to administer polio drops was allegedly beaten with one held captive by locals in Meerut in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh after being mistaken for surveyors collecting demographic data for the National Population Register (NPR).

    One of the victims, Kabir Ahmad Khan told the media that the incident happened when they asked the names of the parents who refused polio drops for their children as they have to register the name of non-consenting parents in their datasheet. He added that they even showed the vaccination box and their personal identification but a mob soon gathered as rumours spread they were NPR data collectors.

    NPR is a comprehensive identity database of every “usual resident” in the country. It contains the demographic and biometric particulars of all citizens taken at an interval of every 10 years.

    Two of the health workers managed to flee the scene and reach a nearby police station after being heckled by locals, but one female member was held captive by some local female residents. She was later rescued by the police.

    There has been nationwide opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA), enacted by the federal government in December 2019. The law grants citizenship to Hindu, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, and Parsis from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.

    The law was widely held as discriminatory toward Muslims and violating provisions of the Indian Constitution. Several opposition parties, civil rights activists, and university students have held protests across the country since 15 December 2019. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and federal Home Minister Amit Shah have been trying to assuage people's anger and assured that no Indian citizen would be affected by the new law.

    While protesters against CAA believe NPR is tied to the NRC, Shah tried to clear up the confusion.

     “I am clearly stating this … NPR is a register of population, NRC is a register of citizens. There is no link between the two and the two have different processes", Shah stated on 24 December in an interview with Indian news agency ANI.

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    protest, government, Ministry's national register, NRC, citizenship law, India
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