The president of non-governmental organisation Assam Public Works, on whose petition the Supreme Court got involved in the process to update the National Register of Citizens in the state, has urged the government to seize the passport of civil servant Prateek Hajela, PTI reported on Tuesday. Hajela was the coordinator of the NRC exercise.
On Friday, a bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had ordered Hajela’s transfer to Madhya Pradesh, the bureaucrat’s home state, over a month after the publication of the final citizenship list on August 31. The court did not mention the reason for issuing the order.
In a statement, Aabhijeet Sharma said Hajela’s “dramatic exit” from the state was a matter of grave concern. He said the government should ensure that he cannot leave the country till the NRC process is audited.
“The government has a major responsibility to find out how a government official who has been solely responsible for spending Rs 1,600 crore of government money can leave Assam without submitting any detailed report of expenses,” Sharma added.
Hours after the top court’s order, the Assam unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party had asked Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to let Hajela go to Madhya Pradesh only after he provides an account of every rupee spent on the exercise.
Sharma alleged that the NRC final list was “full of flaws”, and said Hajela had submitted documents in the court stating threat to his life. “We really don’t understand the courts order regarding his immediate transfer,” the NGO official added. “We still wonder why no order was issued for entrusting his security with any organisation or department.”
Sharma said his organisation would submit another petition on November 17, calling for an inquiry by investigating agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation and the National Investigation Agency.
Hajela, a 1995-batch Indian Administrative Service officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, was involved in the taks of updating the register since September 2013.
Since the publication of the citizens’ database, both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress have criticised the register as well as Hajela. In September, senior Congress leader Tarun Gogoi wrote to Ranjan Gogoi, complaining that Hajela had not discharged his duty efficiently. This came days after two cases were filed against the bureaucrat for allegedly excluding bonafide Indians from the updated citizens’ list deliberately.
The NRC was first published in 1951, and was updated to exclude those who may have illegally entered Assam via Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.
Read all the stories in The Final Count series here.
Now, follow and debate the day’s most significant stories on Scroll Exchange.