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Assam’s leader of opposition demands action against NRC coordinator Hajela

A recent submission by Hajela to the Supreme Court on the list of documents which could be submitted afresh in the claims and objections phase of the exercise has vexed some groups.

india Updated: Sep 07, 2018 23:46 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India Sailesh talks to the media next to National Register of Citizens (NRC) state Coordinator Prateek Hajela (L) during a press conference reagarding the release of the final draft of National Register of Citizens, in Guwahati, on July 30, 2018. (AFP Photo)

Leader of the Opposition in the Assam assembly Debabrata Saikia has accused the state coordinator for the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Prateek Hajela, of misleading the Supreme Court by excluding some vital documents from the list of papers allowed to back up claims and submissions made by applicants.

“We had full faith in him. But the NRC exercise is not going on properly,” said Saikia, a senior Congress leader, demanding action against Hajela.

The NRC exercise has come under criticism since the complete draft was published on July 30, excluding four million applicants. A recent submission by Hajela to the Supreme Court on the list of documents which could be submitted afresh in the claims and objections phase of the exercise has vexed some groups.

The list of 10 documents excludes some which were in the ‘List A’ including legacy documents—the 1951 NRC, voters’ lists up to March 25, 1971—citizenship certificate and refugee registration certificate. Assam Public Works, the main petitioner of the NRC welcomed the submission, saying it will lead to a correct NRC.

“The rules of the Citizenship Act under which the exercise is being done clearly say voters’ list and 1951 NRC are acceptable documents for inclusion,” Saikia said, questioning Hajela’s submission.

Hajela did not respond to the allegations and queries from HT.

Saikia explained that many refugees who had come to Assam until March 25, 1971 had submitted refugee registration and citizenship certificates that hadn’t been accepted in many places because the officials were biased. “How can you not allow them in the claims exercise?,” he asked.

“It is discriminatory. There are cases where a brother is in the NRC while the other brother is out. How can you not allow them to not submit legacy documents again,” said Azizur Rehman, the advisor of the All Assam Minorities Students Union. “We demand the state government and the Centre should intervene against this submission in the court or we will hit the streets.”

“The list of 15 documents was made after agreement of all stakeholders. How can they say that the more than 40 lakh people who are not part of the complete draft cannot submit them,” said Deepak Dey, the president of the All Assam Bengali Youth Students Federation. “There is a conspiracy to keep Bengali and Hindi speakers out of the NRC,” he alleged.

Ranjit Kumar Das, president of the state unit of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, refused to comment. The party, in a press conference just a day before a Supreme Court hearing on September 5, had given a list of 13 documents in addition to those allowed by the top court that should be considered for inclusion in the NRC. “Lakhs of indigenous people and genuine Indian citizens have been excluded in draft NRC, which is a matter of serious concern,” the party said in a statemen.

Meanwhile, Abhijeet Sarma of Assam Public Works, the petitioner in the case, said the submissions by Hajela will ensure a correct NRC. “People, even if they are out, have already submitted their legacy documents for inclusion at the beginning. Why do they need to do it again,” he said.

Not allowing them in claims will ensure that all those who had submitted legacy documents of others, or fake documents, are caught, he said. “Allowing them will encourage trading of documents,” he said.

Saikia, meanwhile, disagreed. “The process is software-driven. It should be able to catch who is submitting documents of others,” he said.

First Published: Sep 07, 2018 23:46 IST