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West Bengal biggest defaulter in NRC verification process, says top official

West Bengal was the biggest defaulter in the NRC verification process pertaining to people who belong to a different state but reside in Assam due to various reasons, registrar general and census commissioner of India Sailesh said on Wednesday.

india Updated: Aug 02, 2018 00:08 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
HT Correspondent, Guwahati
NRC,registrar general and census commissioner,National Register of Citizens
Registrar general and census commissioner Sailesh, who oversaw the entire NRC exercise, said he had deputed his own staff to help the Bengal govt in collecting the requisite documents, but the efforts were not fruitful.(Reuters)

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has launched an offensive against the National Register of Citizens (NRC), but at least three officials have said her government did not verify over one lakh documents sent by her Assam counterpart.

West Bengal was the biggest defaulter in the NRC verification process pertaining to people who belong to a different state but reside in Assam due to various reasons, registrar general and census commissioner of India Sailesh was quoted by news agency PTI as saying on Wednesday.

Sailesh, who oversaw the entire exercise of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), also said that he had deputed his own staff to help the West Bengal government in collecting the documents sought by NRC authorities but the efforts were not fruitful.

“The largest number of documents that we have not received among all states was from West Bengal. We had to struggle. We had to follow up. But we have not received substantial number of documents from West Bengal. The response (of West Bengal) in terms of results was not satisfactory,” he said in New Delhi.

The draft NRC, a list of Assam’s citizens, was published on July 30 that excluded 40 lakh residents of Assam. Most of the names were excluded due to lack of proper documents proving Indian citizenship.

Sailesh also said that there was a meeting through video conference between officials of the West Bengal government and NRC authorities during which a request was made to send the responses.

“West Bengal was the only state where we made an exception by deputing my own staff to assist the state government. But we have not received all required documents for the draft NRC,” he said.

Asked about the number of documents that the West Bengal did not provide, Sailesh said it would be a “substantial number”.

“We have not got a response to around 1.05 lakh documents that were sent to West Bengal for verification,” said a senior NRC official on condition of anonymity. However, it is not clear as to how many people may have been left out because the results of the verification of documents were not available.

NRC Assam coordinator Prateek Hajela insists that non-verification of documents has not affected the exercise.

“Even if the verification was pending, we have ensured eligibility determination through district magistrate investigation,” he said.

In his report to the Supreme Court in March, Hajela had said that as many as 10.76 lakh documents were awaiting verification from several authorities.

Out of this 4.42 lakh were from various districts of Assam, while 1,14,971 were awaiting verification from West Bengal. The apex court in its March 27 order had directed all chief secretaries to ensure verification within stipulated time period.

Additionally, it allowed Hajela to undertake district magistrate investigation by way of house to house verification in cases where documents were not verified by issuing authorities.

Meanwhile, several officials involved in the exercise have claimed that a lot of people have been excluded because either they did not have documents or their documents could not be verified.

“NRC means documents. In absence of verification, we had no choice but to put such people on hold in the complete draft,” said CK Baishya, the local registrar at Pandu, a Bengali dominated neighbourhood in Guwahati.

After the draft NRC list came out on Monday, which excluded 40,07,707 people, Mamata Banerjee launched an attack on the exercise saying it would lead to a civil war and blood bath.

Mamata has also accused BJP of playing votebank politics, while also warning that the issue will “destroy” India’s relationship with Bangladesh, and lead to a civil war here.

She said only 1% of the 40 lakh residents, whose names are missing from the draft NRC, could be infiltrators, but people are being “harassed” in the name of infiltrators.

On Tuesday, she had alleged that the NRC exercise in Assam was done with a “political motive” to divide people and warned that it would lead to bloodbath and a civil war in the country. Official sources said that according to an estimate, West Bengal returned only about 6% of the 1.14 lakh documents that were sent to it by NRC authorities.

Other big defaulters were Bihar, Chandigarh, Manipur and Meghalaya which returned just 2-7% of the documents after verification.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Aug 01, 2018 20:34 IST