Outgoing state coordinator of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, Prateek Hajela, on Monday said that he was “confident of the work” he has done for the preparation of the list of citizens.
Wrapping up his work at the NRC office on his last working day in Bhangagarh, Guwahati, Hajela said, “I am confident of the work that has been done during my tenure. It was a constitutional duty which I have performed.”
Hajela (50), a 1995-batch IAS officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, has led the NRC exercise as state coordinator since 2013. Amid sustained criticism from the Assam government and the BJP, on October 18, the Supreme Court ordered Hajela’s inter-cadre transfer to Madhya Pradesh.
Hajela is credited with devising the technical concepts that guide the NRC updation, where a person’s ancestry could be mapped via digital datasets which draw from decades-old documents, and the planned modus operandi for consequent rounds of physical verifications.
“It was an unprecedented exercise — the only precedent being the aborted pilot project in 2010 in Barpeta and Chhaygaon. (In the NRC process) totality of all evidence was considered, including documents and statements from family members of an individual. It was a comprehensive verification process,” Hajela said.
In June 2010, a pilot project to update the NRC in Barpeta district and Chhaygaon of Kamrup district had to be suspended after four persons were killed and many injured in reported police firing on a demonstration against alleged anomalies in the process of enumeration.
On the day the apex court ordered Hajela’s transfer, state BJP president Ranjit Das had said that Hajela “should not be allowed to leave” till he gives an account of every rupee of the total amount spent.
On the financial expenditure during the NRC exercise, stated to be nearly Rs 1,600 crore, Hajela said, “All expenditures and sanctions are as per due process. Audit has been done for 70% of the work.”
Asked about the criticism by certain political sections and groups regarding exclusions from the NRC, Hajela said, “The important point is the cut-off date.”