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New Delhi: Minister of state for home G Kishan Reddy on Tuesday said conduct of National Population Register (NPR) exercise was a constitutional obligation of the states, while also clarifying that sharing of information by the public for NPR would be “voluntary”.

Reddy’s statement comes a day after Kerala announced that it would not be cooperating with NPR procedures, though it would go ahead with Census 2021 exercise. The MoS said that the states were constitutionally-bound to undertake NPR exercise, which had already been notified by the Centre and renotified by all the states.

NPR, it was underlined, was not started by BJP-led government but by the UPA regime in 2010. "We are only carrying forward what was started in 2010,” said Reddy.

The minister, however, said the Centre would continue to engage the states and sensitise them on the need as well as advantages of collecting information sought as part of NPR exercise. Home ministry sources had earlier said NPR data was a crucial input in framing policy, development and welfare schemes.

Clearing the confusion on whether sharing information sought in NPR form was voluntary, Reddy said respondents would be free not to return information that was either not available with them or they were not comfortable sharing.

At the same time, he pointed to a recent integrated survey conducted by Andhra Pradesh government that had sought far more intrusive details from residents of the state including their bank account details, medical history etc.

“No questions were raised then by politicians like (Assaduddin) Owaisi. This shows that opposition to NPR is largely political-motivated,” he pointed out.

Reddy’s clarification regarding ‘voluntary’ sharing of information for NPR comes days after home ministry officials said that while no documents such as passport, voter ID, Aadhaar card and driving licence need be shown to the enumerator and respondents would have to share information such as Aadhaar number, voter ID number, driving licence number etc if they were in possession of these documents.

The MoS, however, said on Tuesday: 'If one is not comfortable sharing any information asked during NPR, he or she need not do so”.

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