The Supreme Court Monday sought an explanation from the Assam government over allegations that the new state coordinator of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Hitesh Dev Sarma, has made communal statements on a social media platform before his appointment. Asking Sarma to explain his remarks, the court directed the government to look into the issue.
Sarma had 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.”
After his appointment, Barpeta Congress MP Abdul Khaleque had written to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, urging him to reconsider the decision. Khaleque wrote that Sarma was neither “unbiased nor trustworthy” and referred to his posts on Facebook. 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.
The final NRC, published on August 31, had excluded a total of 19,06,657 people from the state.