Barpeta Congress MP Abdul Khaleque has dashed off a letter to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal expressing his displeasure over the appointment of the 1986 batch Assam Civil Service (ACS) officer Hitesh Dev Sarma as the new coordinator of National Register of Citizens (NRC).
In the letter, Khaleque alleged that Sarma is “biased, partial and not trustworthy” to take forward the NRC updation related work. Referring to a few Facebook posts by Sarma, the MP appealed Sonowal to drop the appointment of Sarma immediately.
Sarma has taken charge from November 11th, 2019. The ACS officer had earlier worked in the NRC Directorate, Guwahati. He moved out of the NRC Directorate in 2016. He was working as secretary in Department of Finance and Urban Development, Government of Assam before being appointed as the new NRC Coordinator in place of Prateek Hajela on November 9th, 2019.
Prior to his appointment, Sarma has made several posts on Facebook which have been critical of ‘East Pakistani Muslims’ (Muslims from Bangladesh) residing in the state. In one such post on October 1st, 2019, Sarma said: “I like Arnab Goswami’s logic. We can not accept a foreigner as Indian even if he speaks Assamese. A very valid point.”
The names of 3,11,21,004 persons were found eligible and 19,06,657 persons were excluded from the final NRC list including those who did not submit claims. The final list was published by the Assam government on August 31st, 2019.
Political parties, several organisations have vociferously expressed their unhappiness with the final exclusion figures. They claimed that a large number of indigenous people were excluded from the final NRC list. Hajela has been subject to severe criticism from political and apolitical organisations, who were unhappy with the exclusion figure in the NRC list.
Hajela left for Madhya Pradesh on November 12th, 2019 on deputation for three years. On October 18th, 2019, the Supreme Court had ordered for the inter-cadre transfer of Hajela to Madhya Pradesh. Speaking to media persons at the LGBI Airport, Hajela said that he was “confident of the work” he has done for the preparation of the list of citizens.