Assam NRC: Office functions without newly-appointed state coordinator, work hangs midway
Instead of expediting work, the newly-appointed Assam NRC coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma is on a month-long leave.
GUWAHATI: The process to prepare the “speaking orders” by the office of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is likely to get delayed as it is functioning without the boss.
The speaking orders will be issued to over 19 lakh people left out of the NRC citing the reasons behind their exclusions. The process will be followed by the filing of appeals in various foreigners’ tribunals by those excluded challenging their exclusions. They will get 120 days time to file the appeals.
Recently, the state government appointed Hitesh Dev Sarma, who is an officer of Assam Civil Services, as the NRC state coordinator. He replaced IAS officer Prateek Hajela who was transferred to his home state Madhya Pradesh by the government in deference to an order passed by the Supreme Court.
While people were expecting Sarma to assume charge to expedite the work, he went on a month-long leave. The development comes even as some opposition parties are going for his jugular after they accused him of being “communal” and “biased”.
They are demanding government revoke his appointment. Sarma allegedly made some controversial comments on Facebook on the issue of the NRC.
The first to criticise him for the comments was Congress MP, Abdul Khaleque. In a letter to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, the Barpeta MP accused him (Sarma) of being “biased, partial, and not trustworthy”.
“Given his various posts on Facebook, we thought he is biased. The government should immediately revoke his appointment if it stands for an error-free NRC,” Khaleque said.
The CPI-M too opposed the appointment.
“The CPI-M opposes the appointment of a controversial and biased officer as the NRC state coordinator and urges the government to revoke the appointment,” the party said.
It alleged that the comments, which Sarma made on the social networking site, were “communal”, “biased” and “distasteful”. Such comments are not only unbecoming of a government officer but also an unpardonable offence, the CPI-M said.
It expressed surprise that the government was not taking any action against him despite such comments. If he serves in the post, it will create new complexities in the NRC process, the party said.