154 eminent citizens write to Prez

A group of 154 eminent citizens — comprising former high court judges, ex-bureaucrats, armed forces veterans and academicians — wrote to the President of India expressing their concern at the “vicious” campaign and “fear-mongering” by “vested groups” against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, upcoming National Population Register exercise and the idea of a National Register of Citizens.

In the letter — signed by 11 former judges of different high courts, 24 retired IAS officers, 11 ex-IFS officers, 16 former IPS officers and 18 former Lieutenant Generals — the citizens urged the government to look into the ongoing protests against CAA/NRC “with all seriousness” and safeguard the democratic institutions by taking stern action against the vested interests behind them. They even alleged that the protests were designed to destroy the fabric of the country and harm the nation’s unity and integrity.

The citizens — which include former Chief Justice of Sikkim high court Justice Permod Kohli, former defence secretary Yogendra Narain, former RAW chief Sanjeev Kumar Tripathi, former Kerala chief secretary C V Anand Bose, former Kerala DGP R Padmanabhan and Puducherry University vice chancellor Gurmeet Singh — said the campaign based on a “false and nefarious narrative” about CAA, NPR and NRC was being run in a “coordinated manner” leading to violent protests in which public and private property was destroyed.

They defended CAA saying that it was a law passed by Parliament and did not apply to Indian citizens at all, while also claiming that the Act was not in violation of Article 15 of the Constitution. On NPR, they said it was a legal obligation. As for NRC, the citizens stressed that it was an absolute necessity for a country to maintain such a register for its security safety and well being.

“Such registers are being maintained the world over and are also being maintained by both Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is also to be noted that NRC is religion, caste, creed, colour, language and region neutral,” they argued.

The NPR will be carried out along with the house listing phase of the census exercise from April 1 to September 30.

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