The Malappuram district Collector has issued a show cause notice to the Manjeri Municipal Secretary over a letter requesting schools to appoint teachers for National Population Register (NPR) work.
On January 23, a letter was issued by the Manjeri Municipal Secretary to the head teachers and principals of 15 schools in the town, regarding appointment of teachers as ‘supervisors and enumerators’ for data collection Census and updation of NPR.
The letter immediately sparked a row in the state as Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had in December 2019, announced that all works related to the National Population Register had been stalled, amidst protests against the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Critics say that the NPR is the first step towards the NRC.
Following this, Malappuram district Collector Jafar Malik issued a show cause notice to the Municipal Secretary demanding that an explanation for the letter sent to the 15 schools be furnished within 24 hours.
On Monday, the Collector also took to Facebook explaining that the municipality’s letter requesting details of NPR functionaries had been taken note of by the state government.
“The state government has made it clear that it has stalled all NPR processes in Kerala. This instruction has been relayed to all field officers in the state. Despite issuing these instructions, such repeated lapses by officials will attract serious action from the government. As per the state government’s orders, only Census related work is currently being done in the state. Nowhere in the district has NPR related work, which is in contravention to the state government’s orders, taken place,” the Collector clarified.
According to reports, the lapse on the part of Manjeri municipality has now been pegged to a clerical error. A letter from the Directorate of Census Operations regarding appointment of supervisors and enumerators for Census and NPR work had been issued to the district administrations. This was in turn forwarded to the Secretaries of Municipalities and Municipal Corporations who double as the Census officers in their respective towns and cities. According to the Collector, the Manjeri Municipal Secretary had failed to exclude the portion about NPR and had forwarded the letter as it is.
This the second controversy regarding NPR related works to crop up in Kerala this year. On January 13, an official communication from the Thamassery Tahsildar and Census officer issued to a government school in Kozhikode, said that 'Phase 1 of house listing, housing census and updation of NPR is scheduled to be carried out during 15, April 2020 – 29, May 2020." The letter was addressed to the school's headmaster, regarding 'appointment of supervisors and enumerators.’
The letter soon caused panic and confusion amongst the public. It forced Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to reiterate that all NPR work in the state remained stalled. The Chief Minister’s communication also made it clear that all officers who create confusion regarding NPR in the future would face strict action from District Collectors, as instructed by the government.