No one will be marked 'doubtful' in any column during NPR exercise: Shah

Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi | PTI photo

Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday said that "D" (doubtful) will not be marked in any column during the National Population Register exercise as he accused the opposition of misguiding the main minority community about Citizenship Amendment Act and noted that anti-CAA protest gradually took the shape of communal riots.

Replying to debate on the Delhi violence in Rajya Sabha, the minister said that time has come to remove apprehensions about CAA and NPR which will begin next month.

Shah said no documents would be sought from people during the NPR enumeration.

He said Delhi riots were a conspiracy and no one responsible will be spared irrespective of his party, religion or caste.

Shah began his speech by expressing his pain for the loss of life and property in the riots that began in northeast Delhi on February 24 and were controlled in 36 hours.

He said the police will ensure the strictest punishment to the guilty so that it acts as a deterrent and a lesson for the future.

Noting that investigations will be done in a transparent and scientific manner, he said over 700 FIRs had been registered and 2647persons have been arrested or were in custody.

Refuting opposition allegations, he said the police were taking down statements of anyone who is approaching them.

The minister said 1922 people, who had taken part in riots had been identified on the basis of face-identification software and 336 of them were from four districts of Uttar Pradesh.

He said the borders of the northeast district were sealed on February 24.

The minister said there was a conspiracy behind the riots and money was distributed both through foreign and domestic channels.

Shah said they had prior information about such money being sent and while the police were probing it riots started.

The minister five persons have been arrested for sending and receiving money and for hawala transactions and added that Delhi police will come out with details.

Shah blamed opposition parties of misguiding minorities, especially Muslims, that CAA will impact their citizenship and said it was done for political interest.

Congress member Kapil Sibal asked the minister that people have apprehension about NPR that "doubtful" will be written against additional questions in the form being asked by the government during enumeration and an inquiry will be conducted subsequently.

"No document will be sought during NPR. You do not have information, the amount of information you want to give, you are free. It is optional. If information is not available, you cannot give, there will be no 'D'. No one needs to be afraid of NPR," he said.

"D will be marked against vacant space. This will not happen. 'D' will not be used," he said.

Shah also invited Azad to meet him with a delegation of opposition leaders to seek any clarity on NPR.

"Time has come to remove apprehensions about CAA and NPR," he said and added that there should be no confusion and no harm can come to anyone.

With the opposition parties accusing some BJP leaders of hate speech, Shah hit back and referred to speech of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on December 14 in which she had talked of "aar paar ki ladai".

He said the protest at Shaheen Bagh started a day later and there were some clashes earlier.

Shah said people have a democratic right to protest but it should not be done in a manner that people are put to inconvenience.

He referred to remarks made about taking to streets and show "power" during the visit of US President Donald Trump and protests started in different places of northeast Delhi on February 23 as a result of hate speech.

He said provocative remarks were also made by an AIMIM leader on March 19.

"Protests started at nine-ten places in northeast Delhi and these kept increasing and the anti-CAA protest slowly got converted into communal riots," he said.

The minister said no hate speech should not be spared.

He said there were hate speeches, the conspiracy to send money, remarks to hit the streets during the visit of US President, social media were set up which vanished in three days and the riots spread fast.

Shah also referred to opposition criticism about the transfer of a judge and said it had been done according to the laid down procedures. "What is this thought that only one judge can give justice. Why a particular judge. Why no faith on the other judge?" he asked.

The minister said three SITs (special investigation teams) have been formed to probe 50 serious crimes such as killings, attacks on places of worship, hospitals or schools and added that investigation in such cases is being supervised by the senior officer of DIG or IG rank.

He said 49 cases have been registered under the Arms Act, 52 persons have been arrested and 125 weapons seized.

The minister said 40 teams have been formed with the specific task to arrest those who had indulged in riots.

He said public prosecutors have been appointed in all 12 police stations impacted by violence.

"Twenty-five computers are being used to look into video footage with police," he said adding that the police had sought footage from various channels including the media.

Referring to concerns about a breach of privacy in using face identification software, he said no privacy provisions or Supreme Court guidelines were being violated.

The minister said the government had not used Aadhaar data for face identification and data relating to driving license and voter i-card had been used.

Shah said hundreds of social media accounts were closed but there were some accounts that were opened ahead of riots and closed immediately afterwards. "Those responsible will not be able to escape," he asserted.

He said police have also arrested two persons with links to IS who were translating inflammatory material in Indian languages and those responsible for killing police and IB official.

The minister said Delhi Police should be complimented for not allowing the riots to spread to a wider area.

Responding to points made by AAP member Sanjay Singh, he said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had not given suggestion for the deployment of Army at the meeting held on February 25.

Slamming those who had accused the government of "state-sponsored riots," he said they should at least use common sense before making such an allegation.

He said the US President was in the country when riots started.

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