There is no end to baseless allegations against the National Population Register and the Narendra Modi government claiming that the NPR is anti-Muslim. The latest to join the same is a page from the NPR manual listing some important festivals of India, which does not mention any Muslim festival. Several people are posting the screenshot of that page on social media alleging that the Modi government has removed important Muslim festivals from a government document.
Social media users shared the image noting that it does not contain major Islamic festivals like Eid ul Fitr, Eid ul Adha, Moharram and Milad un Nabi. They alleged that it is a clear signal of the outcome of the NPR, which is disenfranchising crores of Muslims.
A clear signal on what will be outcome of NPR.
Disenfranchising crores of Muslim citizens. pic.twitter.com/3JHZx0CN3D
— Kamran Shahid (@CitizenKamran) December 29, 2019
Instruction manual for updation of National Population Register (NPR) 2020 for enumerators and supervisors didn’t mention any Islamic holidays. There are 4 major festivals/ events for Muslims Eid ul Fitr, Eid ul Adha, Moharram and Milad un Nabi. None of them mentioned. pic.twitter.com/ZG0Ey1wBCY
— ???? ????? (@karmariaz) December 29, 2019
Milli Gazette, a radical Islamic media house, also made the allegation that “fanatic Hindus in power are ruining India like grasshoppers are attacking crops in north India”. They mentioned that all Muslim festivals have been removed from the list of Indian festivals.
These fanatic Hindus in power are ruining India like grasshoppers are attacking crops in north India. Check Page No. 35 from this NPR manual. Ramazan, Milad un Nabi, Muharram….all Muslim festivals removed from list of Indian festivals https://t.co/MlrgZ5oi3K
— Milli Gazette (@milligazette) December 29, 2019
Although it is correct that the Annexure V of the NPR, which contain some Indian festivals and the month in Gregorian calendar in which they take place, does not include any Muslim festival, there is a specific and valid reason for that, and it has nothing to do with any imaginary anti-Muslim bias of the NDA government. The Muslim festivals are not mentioned because they don’t serve a specific purpose in the NPR exercise like the other festivals mentioned in the list do.
The festivals are mentioned in the NPR instruction manual to help guess the month of birth of person if someone remembers the year of birth but can’t recall the month. In section 4.9 of the manual titled Questions under NPR, question 5 deals with recording the date of birth of people. Under it, section c states that if the only year of birth is known, the enumerator should ask in which season that person was born, and if the birth took place near a festival. If the person or the family can tell that such a person was born near such a festival, the enumerator can use the corresponding month in Gregorian calendar to record the same as the month of birth. For this reason, two months are mentioned against several festivals, as those Indian festivals took place in either of the two months.
Now, the Islamic festivals take place according to Islamic lunar calendar, and their corresponding month in the Gregorian calendar changes every year. On average, the date of Islamic festivals gets advanced by 2-3 weeks every year, which means after every 1-2 years they take place in the previous month. As the Muslim festivals do not take place in a particular month in the Gregorian calendar, they do not help in identifying the month of birth of a person.
On the contrary, the list in the NPR manual contains events that take place as per Gregorian calendar or Hindu solar calendar. Even if the Hindu calendar is not the same as the Gregorian calendar, the months of Hindu festivals don’t change beyond one month. For example, the Durga puja takes place either in September or in October, it does not fall in any other month. While some other festivals, like the Bihus in Assam, although they take place as per local calendar, they always fall in the same month in the Gregorian calendar.
Therefore, the festivals mentioned in the list help in identifying the month of birth if the same is not known. But the Islamic festivals do not help in this regard. Even if someone says that he/she was born during Ramjan, for example, the enumerator will need the Islamic and Gregorian calendar for that particular year to find out the month, and a one-page ready reckoner will not help. This is the reason why the NPR manual does not list Islamic festivals to be used as a guide to find an unknown month of birth.
It may be noted that the same list was also included in the manual for NPR in 2011 which too didn’t include any Muslim festival. In the manual issued for the 2011 NPR during the UPA government, the list was included in Annexure-III, and the same festivals are mentioned in the current manual.
It may be noted that the few festivals are mentioned in the list for the convenience of the enumerators, it is not a comprehensive list. People who don’t know their month of birth can mention other festivals of local importance, or other incidents like a well-known natural or man-made disaster to point towards the month, and there is no bar on using such events to record the month of birth.
The full 2020 NPR manual has been attached below:
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