An Assam government order dated November 9, which was signed by state Personnel Department Commissioner and Secretary K K Dwivedi, stated that Sarma, who was serving as secretary of the Urban Development and Finance Departments, “is transferred and posted as Secretary to the Government of Assam, Home and Political Department, and State Coordinator NRC, Assam, and in-charge of the Directorate of NRC, Assam”.
Sarma said that he served as Executive Director of the NRC from 2014 to February 2017. “I will expect cooperation from everyone and can make any further comment only after I start working,” he said.
Sarma is expected to start his second stint at the NRC directorate on Monday, which is Hajela’s last day. With his prior experience at the NRC directorate, Sarma is expected to know the intricacies of the NRC process.
A source at the NRC office said that Sarma’s first stint came to an end after he sought relief from his responsibilities citing personal reasons.
Sarma has uploaded posts about issues related to the Citizenship Bill on Facebook. In a post on February 13, restricted only to his friends, he had said that there were “lakhs and lakhs of Bangladeshis in the NRC”. In another post on November 15, 2017, Sarma had said, “Minority appeasement policy for the last seven decades has changed the definition of secularism.”
The final NRC, published on August 31, had excluded a total of 19,06,657 people from the state.
On October 18, the Supreme Court ordered an inter-cadre transfer of Hajela to Madhya Pradesh “on deputation for the maximum period permissible under the relevant rules/regulations”. People close to Hajela had said that he wanted to be transferred.
Hajela was earlier barred by the Supreme Court from talking about the NRC to the media.
His transfer followed his deteriorating relationship with the Assam government, and mounting criticism by the state units of various political parties, including the BJP and the Congress, over the last few months.