When will Assam NRC scam stars be punished ?


Just ahead of the first Parliamentary session, a letter was sent to Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi, who was reinstated to lead the Union government in New Delhi after the General Elections 2024, seeking PM Modi’s personal intervention in updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. The sender, a former state coordinator for the NRC (Assam), alleges huge anomalies in the NRC updating process and points fingers at his predecessor, Prateek Hajela, IAS (retired). Congratulating Modi for his third consecutive triumph, Hitesh Devsarma, also an IAS (retired), conveyed that the people of Assam still hope that PM Modi will take visible actions for the detection and deportation of illegal migrants (read Bangladeshi Muslims).

Devsarma, who retired as a home secretary to the Assam government in 2022, described how badly Assam had been affected by the illegal migration of foreigners, especially from Bangladesh, for the last several decades, and he asserted that the problem is yet to be addressed properly by the Union government in New Delhi. He went ahead with saying that currently, Bangladeshi Muslims have emerged as a major threat to the existence of the indigenous people of Assam. So he found no other option than to write to the PMO, directly reposing immense faith in Modi’s determination, capability, and concern for the great nation. Mentionable is that an important effort began for the detection of illegal foreigners in Assam by 2014 through the updating of the NRC as per the order of the Supreme Court of India. The NRC updating was done under the leadership of Hajela as the state coordinator, and Devsarma was also initially involved with the process as the executive director.

“But in early 2016, Hajela started applying his discretionary power (going against the principle), which had the potential to jeopardize the entire purpose of NRC updating. For the difference of opinions, I abandoned the process in February 2017,” said Devsarma in his letter to PMO, adding that the complete draft NRC was published in July 2018 and the supplementary list was released on August 31, 2019. Later, Hajela was sent to his home state on deputation, even though the final NRC was yet to be published. Then Devsarma was assigned as the NRC State Coordinator, and he found that no less than Rs 260 crore of mismanagement was done during the process until March 31, 2020. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) also reported financial irregularities and fixed responsibility for these anomalies for Hajela. As per the procedure, Hajela had to face the public accounts committee to respond to all charges, but he was allowed to go on voluntary retirement.

Devsarma lodged two FIRs in this regard (another three FIRs were lodged by private parties). Now Devsarma demands a complete re-verification of the NRC (Assam) and legal actions against all those elements that tried to derail the process for their vested interests. He also demanded that the Enforcement Directorate inquire into the financial irregularities of the NRC updating process and probable money laundering. Apprehending a foreign hand that spent a huge amount of money for the inclusion of illegal migrants’ names in the NRC, Devsarma also raised voices for a National Investigation Agency probe to unearth any foreign money that might have been involved in the process.

One can remember that three Guwahati-based television scribes were named on social media as being beneficiaries of the multi-crore NRC scam because they tried to manipulate the local media in favor of Hajela and his associates. They publicly advocated accepting the current NRC draft as the final one without bothering about the consequences for national security or the Assamese people’s future in their own land. In television talk shows the trio hosted, they lavishly praised Hajela, almost like a superman. The social media users asked them to clarify their stand on the NRC scam and their involvement with it, but shamefully, they continue to remain silent over the matter to date. The genuine question that arises here is whether there would be a fair probe into the NRC irregularities and guilty individuals, including those news channel scribes, would be punished under the law in the near future.

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