Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Partha Pratim Mazumdar was appointed the National Register of Citizens (NRC) Coordinator of Assam on Thursday.
Mazumdar, a 2010 batch officer, will replace his predecessor Hitesh Dev Sharma, who is set to retire on July 31, after holding the post for more than two years.
According to state government notification, Mazumdar is currently posted as the registrar of cooperative societies and secretary to the Women and Child Welfare department.
He is set to be transferred as a secretary to the home and political department, and will additionally take over the post of state coordinator for NRC and in-charge of the directorate of NRC.
Published in August 2019, the updated NRC — meant to be a bonafide register of Indian citizens — excluded 19,06,657 names out of 3,30,27,661 applicants. Since then the exercise has been in limbo.
Following its release, the Supreme Court had ordered Prateek Hajela, an IAS officer who was the then state coordinator, to be transferred out of Assam to Madhya Pradesh.
In November, 2019, Sarma was appointed in his place, but his tenure as the Assam NRC head has been marked by multiple controversies. After Sarma’s appointment, his old social media posts, which were alleged to be communally-biased, surfaced. It led the apex court to ask him to delete the post and provide an explanation. It was only in January 2020 that he could assume his office after this furore subsided.
However, Sarma, a 1989-batch Assam Civil Service officer, has maintained his objections against the existing NRC, which has led to a situation whereby virtually none of the processes that were supposed to follow the NRC’s publication have been undertaken.
The 19 lakh people, who were excluded from the NRC, are yet to be issued formal rejection slips despite the Registrar General of India telling the state NRC coordinator to do so, leaving those rejected in a limbo.
In May, Sarma also filed a complaint against Hajela, alleging that he had “committed treason” by deliberately introducing errors in the NRC and thus,“endangered national security”.