A day after the officer in charge of Assam’s National Register of Citizens or NRC was transferred to Madhya Pradesh by the Supreme Court, the state BJP has once again targeted him.
State BJP President Ranjeet Kumar Dass accused Prateek Hajela of “playing” with the sentiments of the Assamese people with a faulty NRC and demanded an account of the Rs. 1,600 crore reportedly spent on the exercise.
The NRC coordinator should not be transferred until he explains how “each and every penny was spent”, Mr Dass said.
The Assam BJP has also urged the state and the central governments to raise the issue with the Supreme Court.
Mr Hajela, who led the gigantic exercise of updating the citizenship list in Assam, was transferred on Friday by the top court to Madhya Pradesh in a move that surprised many, including the top government lawyer.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi asked the government to issue the transfer order immediately but did not give a reason. Sources close to Mr Hajela believe he opted for inter-cadre deputation and the Supreme Court allowed it.
Mr Hajela told Media “I am appointed by the court. Whatever I had to say, I told the court. Now the court has ordered my inter-cadre deputation to Madhya Pradesh.”
Six years ago, he had been tasked with supervising the massive exercise of revising the citizen’s list in Assam, a complex project that has navigated controversies related to communal and linguistic divides.
He was seen as an able technocrat who could best tackle the job intended to weed out illegal immigrants.
Mr Hajela led a team of over 50,000 officials. An IIT alumnus, he faced criticism from political parties as well as civil society organisations over alleged errors in the citizen’s list.
The strongest critics included leaders of the state’s ruling BJP, who alleged that many Hindus, who are genuine citizens, are missing in the revised list that was published on August 31, leaving out about 19 lakh people.