NRC authority mulls action against official for irregularities in checking documents: sources

Guwahati, Aug 18 (PTI) The NRC authority is considering recommending strong action against a senior Assam government official for alleged irregularities in checking documents of people from Chamaria and some nearby areas in Kamrup district after which re-verification had to be done, sources close to the development said.
Kamrup Deputy Commissioner Kamal Kumar Baishya has sent a report to the NRC State Coordinator Prateek Hajela about two months back on the alleged irregularities by a former Circle Officer of Chamaria under his district which came to light in 2018.
The report noted how the then Circle Officer allegedly made all the affected people Original Inhabitants (OI) only to reduce his workload, the sources claimed.
He had allegedly ticked the OI column for all the people, including Hindus and Muslims, in the verification list, which lessened his burden for cross-checking the documents as well as the tedious process of finding out the family tree of the applicants, they said.
“It is not a corruption-related case. The DC’s enquiry has found out that the official’s quality of verification was very poor and he was not sincere about his duties,” a source said.
The sources told PTI that the irregularities were initially detected around September 2018, after which the Kamrup district administration swung into action and found that it was affecting the entire Chamaria revenue circle.
The NRC (National Register of Citizens) authority was then informed about the development and after much deliberations, it was decided to hold reverification in these areas.
“It was a good pro-active decision by the NRC authority to hold the reverification process.
“This shows that they are serious about bringing out an error-free NRC within the deadline,” a source close to the development said.
The NRC authority has taken the report very seriously and is likely to recommend strong action against the erring bureaucrat, who is an Assam Civil Services official, the sources confirmed.
No official comment could be obtained from the NRC Office as the Supreme Court had barred them from talking to the media.
The deadline to publish the final NRC is August 31.
The errant official was transferred from Chamaria early last year. A new Circle Officer was appointed in Chamaria, but he left the place within months seeking a voluntary transfer.
In the second half of 2018, the current Circle Officer was appointed.
She along with the deputy commissioner informed the NRC authority about the irregularities and started the process of reverification.
Calls made to the Kamrup Deputy Commissioner remained unanswered.
From August 3 afternoon, notices for reverification were served across the south of Kamrup district to about 33,000 people, asking them to appear within 48 hours in NRC Seva Kendras (NSKs), almost 400-500 km away from their place of residence, in several upper Assam districts.
The sources said that as NRC process is time-bound and the final document has to be published by August 31, all the reverification work has to be completed as soon as possible.
“The NSKs in entire lower Assam were already loaded with their scheduled reverification process. As there were fewer claims and objections in upper Assam, so the NSKs there were relatively less occupied.
“That is why the authorities decided to hold the reverification of these unscheduled cases in upper Assam districts.
“The only thing is that the notices should have been served to the people by giving them some more time,” they added.
Many poor people in the south of Kamrup area, with no money to fund their travel at such a short notice, had to pledge their valuables, including gold, cattle or sell their harvested crops at throwaway price.
People rushed to the NSKs in Jorhat, Sivasagar, Golaghat and Charaideo districts cramming into overloaded and overpriced buses.
In July last year, 40,07,707 people were excluded from the complete draft of the NRC, which contained the names of 2,89,83,677 eligible persons out of a total 3,29,91,384 applicants.
An additional 1,02,462 persons were included last month in the list of excluded persons, taking the total number of ineligible persons to 41,10,169 in the complete draft document.
Assam, which had faced an influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th Century, is the only state having an NRC that was first prepared in 1951.