Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday said that the National Register of Citizens exercise remained incomplete in the state and Hindus living in the Barak Valley region need justice, NDTV reported.

“We have promised justice to Hindus of Barak Valley,” the minister said at a meeting in Karimganj district of Barak Valley. “NRC remained incomplete due to Prateek Hajela. We have done almost 90% of the work...we still need to do some work for providing justice to Hindus.”

Hajela, the previous NRC coordinator, had been overseeing the process since 2013. But, last year on October 18, the Supreme Court ordered that Hajela “immediately” be transferred to Madhya Pradesh. The court did not state the reason for its decision. It only said, “No order will be without a reason”.

Sarma said thousands of people who believed in “Maa Bharati” have been languishing in detention camps because of the enumeration exercise. He also claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party government has set a “new benchmark” of governance in the state.

Last month, the Assam minister had said that the NRC is “fundamentally wrong”, and a new exercise will begin after the state polls if the Supreme Court allows.

In an affidavit filed on December 3, NRC coordinator Hitesh Sarma had informed the Gauhati High Court that the final list of the NRC exercise was “yet to be published” by the Registrar General of India. He had added that the list was fraught with errors as it included “4,700-odd ineligible names”.

NRC exercise

More than 19 lakh people were left out of the final list of the updated citizens’ database that was published on August 31, 2019. The number of people left out comprise around 6% of Assam’s entire population, two times the number of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, and the population of Nagaland. Some of those left out have been appealing against their exclusion in foreigners’ tribunals. As many as 3.3 crore people had applied for the exercise.

There are several controversies surrounding the NRC, including speculation that it has been targeted against a particular community. Many political parties, including the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, have criticised the NRC, pointing out that many Bengali Hindus have been left out of the register. Bengali Hindus are the BJP’s oldest vote bank in the state.