Won’t Let Anyone Lose Citizenship, Vows Techie of ‘Missing Voters App’ Fame

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Massive protest against CAA-NRC in Bihar’s Aurangabad (Photo- Manoj Jha’s Twitter)

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

The smartphone App developed by Syed Khalid Saifullah lets a user create a family tree. This App tells the difference between documented citizens and the undocumented residents.

Zafar Aafaq | Caravan News

NEW DELHI — A new app developed by the Hyderabad-based techie Syed Khalid Saifullah of the ‘Missing Voters’ app hopes to help prove the citizenship right of thousands of Indians.

In the context of the BJP government push for NPR-NRC coupled with the new citizenship law, the CAA, Khalid notes that if an NRC (National Registry of Citizens) is conducted anytime in future, it is highly likely that millions of Indians will fail to furnish the documentary proof of citizenship. In a country beset with illiteracy, poverty and social inequalities, it is obvious that a major chunk of the population will not have any documentary evidence to prove their residency, let alone that of their ancestors. Even the literate people are confused as to what documents would suffice to prove their citizenship right, he points out.

The smartphone app developed by the Hyderabad techie lets a user create a family tree. This app tells the difference between documented citizens and the undocumented residents.

Khalid points out that as many as 44 crore Indians are illiterate, and they will be immediately impacted. “Most of them will be Hindus.”

But what brings solace to Hindus is the new citizenship law (CAA). It lets non-Muslims get into the fast track for citizenship while Muslim will be left out. “The purpose of NRC is to target the Muslims and we want to defeat that purpose,” he said, adding, “I will not let anyone lose his or her citizenship”.

Syed Khalid Saifullah, a software engineer by profession (left) with Prakash Ambedkar’s grandson of Dr B R Ambedkar.

According to CAA, a law passed in December 2019 by Parliament, the migrants from three neighbouring countries — Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan — can avail fast-track citizenship in India. But, the law excludes Muslim migrants to avail the same benefit. Critics say this is the first time that the state is defining citizenship on religious criteria — which goes directly against the principle of secularism enshrined in the Constitution.

The law may not directly affect Indian Muslims. But, when coupled with the NRC, it can become a tool for large-scale disenfranchisement. Muslims fear that the law is part of the anti-Muslim and pro-Hindutva agenda of the rightwing BJP government led by populist leader Narendra Modi, and that this will render them as second-class citizen.

Khalid has been in the news over the past couple of years for developing two apps — the Missing Voters App and the Muslim Freedom Fighters app — and these were well-received by the public. The Missing Voters app, launched in March 2018, around the time of the Karnataka assembly elections, ensured enrollment of over one lakh potential voters whose names were missing from electoral rolls. “The app is still functional and we are helping people get enrolled,” Khalid said.

Khalid heads a team of experts and volunteers that runs initiatives empowering marginalized sections of the society by effective use of technology.

According to him, the app is now in its second week and has recorded a whopping 30,000 downloads. “The app is trending at 3rd position on play store right now worldwide,” he said in an interview with Caravan Daily. “It shows the amount of fear NRC has generated among the people.”

One of the most striking features of the app is that it doesn’t save the data of the people online, ensuring the privacy of the users. The data of the family tree the users create stays within the mobile phone app, If at all one deletes the app. “There are no privacy issues at all,”  Khalid said. “We just get the contact number of the users which we keep for record to contact them in future.”

You can download the app from Google Play Store- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=app.familyecho


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