Asian News Network (ANI) on 19th December, tweeted screenshots from a computer document that is supposed to be a fact sheet consisting answers to some frequently asked questions on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). ANI attributed the document to unnamed ‘government sources’.
— ANI (@ANI) December 19, 2019
But many were quick to point out that there was no licit authorisation to the fact sheet and it had no bearing of a standard government document.
Why can’t “government sources” take ownership of this document? Which ministry? Which babu? Why is it unsigned?
Because it’s all lies.
— Shivam Vij (@DilliDurAst) December 19, 2019
Please disclose the government source which has put out this FAQ. Not on any letter head, has no signature or stamp.
— Anjali Bhardwaj (@AnjaliB_) December 19, 2019
So should I believe your unnamed ‘government sources’ or the actual Home Minister’s message which had been shared by BJP’s official twitter handle?
Your government source will need to be higher up than Amit Shah for us to believe him, right? pic.twitter.com/x0SgZGMwIb
— Doctor Roshan R (@pythoroshan) December 19, 2019
These screenshots have been widely shared and circulated by the supporters of the CAA to ally fears the protesting citizens have about the combination of the new law with the NRC.
However, the pages of the document miss the most basic insignias that a government-released file has.
The title of the FAQ sheet was, “Do not get misled, Do not fall victim to misinformation” – which is very unbecoming of any official paperwork.
Generally, formal headings on official documents are direct and not sermonic in nature. For instance, this FAQ on Foreign Contribution Regulation Act is plain and of the manner in which the government writes its information sheets.
Also, it is important to know that official factsheets are released on government websites by the relevant ministries that overlook the matter. Since the upkeep of the citizens’ register and immigration are affairs handled by the Home Ministry, The Logical Indian looked up the factsheet in question but found no existence of it on that domain.
On the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) website, one will need to go to the ‘media’ section to look up every press release made by the government. The ‘media’ tab directs the user to the Press Information Bureau’s website (PIB) where she/he will be able to choose to look at any feature, factsheet, or backgrounder released by any ministry.
But there is no sign of this fact sheet on PIB’s site and what answers only selective questions on CAA and NRC, is missing from the government’s information disseminator.
The four-page-document which is supposedly a ‘factsheet’ from ‘government sources’ was released by ANI through its Twitter handle but does not exist in actuality on any legitimate platform. However, The Times Of India, The Economic Times, Money Control, News18, and other media organisations fuelling its virality.
Fact Check India tweeted that they reached out to the MHA’s media wing to confirm if the government really published this fact sheet. Interestingly, they received a response from the ‘wing’ declaring that the government had not engaged in any such activity.
“The said document has not been released by the Ministry of Home Affairs”, the ministry’s media wing told us in an email, when asked whether the government issued this document. https://t.co/Dzo1fr1pF4
— FactChecker.in (@FactCheckIndia) December 20, 2019
So where did these pages come from?
The Logical Indian’s sources affirmed that this document was released by a few journalists who cover the Home Ministry and the PMO. The informally drafted pages were published for public viewing in cohorts with the government.
The text claims that the NRC will be a ‘simple process’ similar to the one a person needs to undergo for obtaining an ‘Aadhaar card’ or ‘voter ID’, but an MHA spokesperson recently said that Aadhar cards and Passports are not proof enough to confirm that one is an Indian citizen.
The Citizenship Amendment Act – which provides a legal and faster way toward procuring Indian citizenship for all Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians, and Sikhs, from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, is being accused of creating a safety net for all non-Muslim applicants of NRC who may possibly be excluded from the list.
This allegation has gained momentum ever since the news that a Kargil war veteran named Mohammed Sana Ullah and former Indian President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed’s family was left out of the register of citizens, spread to more people.
Both well-respected and eminent personalities found themselves or their families affected by the NRC sparking the fear that the implementation of CAA will sanction real foreigners as Indians, and real Indians as foreigners, leaving countless Muslims without rights, identity and a domicile.