Syed Ali Shah Geelani

After coming out onto the streets to collect money for fighting cases of Lajpat Nagar blast case convicts, Syed Ali Shah Geelani this week brought Census department and the visiting Amnesty International team on the defensive.
Geelani who is advocating active participation of people in the census exercise had said that non-state residents should not be included in the headcount, as that skews the demographic composition of the census results. On the basis of previous census results, which portray a decline the Muslim ratio in population, there are apprehensions among many people in the state about the exercise.
An alarmed census department retorted through statements and advertisements that non state subjects would not be included in the National Population Register (NPR) of the state.
“Any citizen can fill up NPR anywhere in the country but he has to specifically mention his Permanent Residential Address of his village, town, district and State. His unique identify card will be accordingly issued to him from his own place of origin, permanent address and his own State,” a census department official said.
Experts, however, assert that Geelani’s reservations pertained to census count and not the National Population Register, which was introduced this year for unique identity card project. The Census count despite official clarification, they said, will count any non state subjects staying for six months.
Meanwhile Geelani also bored holes into the visit of an Amnesty International delegation (first in two decades), comprising of two Indian citizens. Expressing scepticism Geelani said that the watchdog should have sent non-Indian nationals, as Indian nationals, he said, would keep “national interest in mind”.
The delegation replied that the watchdog sent its local staff only after international visitors were consistently denied permission by India to visit J&K.

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