Guwahati, November 9: Assam Civil Service officer Hitesh Dev Sharma was on Saturday appointed as the NRC State Coordinator in place of Prateek Hajela, who ensured publication of the final version of the National Register of Citizens on August 31 under supervision of the Supreme Court. Dev Sharma, who was serving as the Secretary to the Urban Development and Finance Departments, has been transferred as Secretary to the Home and Political Department and State Coordinator, NRC and in-charge Directorate of NRC, an official order said here.
The updated final NRC, which validates bonafide Indian citizens of Assam, has left out over 19 lakh applicants. It was published under Hajela, a 1995 batch IAS officer of Assam-Meghalaya cadre who was appointed the NRC coordinator by the Supreme Court. Now, Dev Sharma has his task cut out as those who have been excluded from the NRC have 120 days to appeal against it at Foreigners Tribunals. If not satisfied with the verdict of the tribunals, they will have the option to move the High Court and the Supreme Court for redress.
Hajela has been transferred to his home state Madhya Pradesh following a direction of the Supreme Court and will relinquish charge as the NRC State Coordinator on November 11. Following the apex court’s order, the Union cabinet’s appointment committee has already approved the proposal of the central department of personnel and training for inter-cadre deputation of Hajela from Assam-Meghalaya cadre to Madhya Pradesh cadre for three years, official sources said.
Assam government had also written to the department of personnel and training, stating that it did not have any objection in transferring Hajela. Assam has seen a huge influx from other places, particularly Bangladesh, since the early 20th century. It did not stop even after Independence, with a large number of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, both Hindus and Muslims, settling there.
Identification, detention and deportation of such immigrants was a major demand over which the All Assam Students Union (AASU) launched a 6-year movement which ended with the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985. In 2009, an NGO, Assam Public Works (APW), filed a petition in the Supreme Court praying that names of 41 lakh foreigners be deleted from the electoral rolls of Assam and the NRC updated.
In response to the petition, the Centre told the apex court that the 1951 NRC was being updated. The Supreme Court in 2013 took up the APW petition and directed both the Central and state governments to begin the process for updating the NRC and the actual work began two years later. (PTI)