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NRC coordinator files complaint: Hajela put national security at risk

The Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) coordinator HD Sarma Thursday filed a police complaint against his predecessor Prateek Hajela for allegedly endangering “national security” while heading the NRC updation process in the state.

Sarma, who took over as state coordinator after Hajela was transferred to Madhya Pradesh following an order of the Supreme Court in October 2019, alleged that the latter “facilitated entry of names of ineligible persons into the NRC” by intentionally avoiding “mandatory quality checks”.

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In his complaint addressed to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Assam Police and copied to Home and Political Department, Sarma said that Hajela’s actions can be “treated as not only a dereliction of duty but an act of treason for doing such an activity which is likely to threaten the national security.”

The Indian Express could not confirm if the complaint was registered by the police. Calls to A Y V Krishna, ADGP, CID, Assam went unanswered. Senior Home and Political Department officials said that they were not aware of Sarma’s complaint letter.

In his complaint, Sarma alleged that Hajela had ordered use of a software during the ‘family tree’ verification process of the exercise “which prevented quality check and facilitated entry of names of ineligible persons into the NRC”.

To be included in the NRC — which left out 19 lakh people — a person had to trace their ancestry to someone who lived in Assam before 1971. The ‘family tree’ verification process ensured that those tracing their ancestry to one particular person were related to each other.

Sarma has alleged that the process was flawed and there were loopholes in the software that could be manipulated. The complaint also appended a list of data entry operators who Sarma said had been involved in “fraudulent activities” during the updation process.

Another allegation in the letter said that Hajela included a number of people in the ‘Original Inhabitant’ (OI) category, and thus protected them from a second round of verification during the exercise. Being categorised OI was a fast-track route to be included in NRC, and was essentially accorded to people who had surnames which were ‘indigenous’ to be Assam. Sarma alleged that Hajela “wilfully avoided the reverification” of many names who were not actually ‘OI’, thereby facilitating their entry into the list. Hajela was not available for comment.

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