Ex-NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela accused of graft, FIR filed
An Assam-based NGO has filed an FIR with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CB) against former National Register of Citizens (NRC) state coordinator Prateek Hajela for alleged misappropriation of government funds.
The FIR was filed in CBI’s anti-corruption branch in Guwahati by Rajib Deka, on behalf of Assam Public Works (APW), one of the original petitioners in Supreme Court that led to updation of the NRC in Assam.
In his complaint, Deka wanted the CBI to probe how the nearly Rs 1,600 crore released by the Centre for updating NRC was utilised by Hajela, who was executing the entire process, and his aides.
It is alleged that Hajela appointed several retired government officials as advisors to carry out the NRC updating process and provided them with brand new vehicles and attractive remuneration packages. “There is no record of the nature of work done by the advisors and it was not audited by Comptroller Auditor General (CAG),” it alleged.
The FIR alleged that while a large number of school teachers were appointed to help with the NRC process and records showed that they were paid remuneration, the teachers had not been paid anything. It added that nearly 10,000 laptops were purchased at inflated prices of Rs 44,000 each while their market value was Rs 22,500. “The above instances clearly demonstrate that huge corruption has taken place in the process of updation of NRC with the active role of Hajela and his close aides,” the FIR stated.
The final list of NRC released in August this year had excluded 1.9 million applicants. Hajela was soon transferred to his parent state Madhya Pradesh following instructions of the Supreme Court, which was monitoring the entire NRC process.
Hajela left Assam this month and the state government has appointed state civil services officer Hitesh Dev Sarma as the new state coordinator for NRC.
In a separate development, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Himanta Biswa Sarma said the Assam government has decided to table the district-wise figures of Hindu Bengalis excluded from the final NRC list in the assembly session.
Sarma, also the state finance minister, claimed that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has found “huge irregularities” in the updation process of NRC in the state three years ago. A few days ago, he had urged the Centre to dismiss NRC in its present form.“We will give the figure of those Hindu Bengali people applying (in Foreigners Tribunal after exclusion in the NRC) in different districts during the ongoing session of the Assembly. We could not give that data earlier as NRC was not prepared. Now we have the data with district-wise break up,” he said.
Union home minister Amit Shah announced in the Rajya Sabha on November 20 that the NRC updation process will be carried out afresh in Assam concurrently with the rest of India. On the same day, Sarma said the state has requested Shah to reject the NRC in the current form.