Former NRC coordinator Hajela leaves Assam

GUWAHATI: Former coordinator of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, Prateek Hajela on Tuesday left for his home state, Madhya Pradesh with the hope of returning to Assam after three years.

The Supreme Court had last month ordered Hajela’s inter-cadre transfer to Madhya Pradesh for maximum period permissible. The Assam government on Saturday appointed Hitesh Dev Sarma as his replacement.

“Though Madhya Pradesh is my home state, Assam is like my own state, my karma bhumi (work place) where I have served for 23 years. I have learnt a lot here. My daughter was born here and she can speak fluent Assamese. I will certainly return after three years of deputation in Madhya Pradesh,” an emotional Hajela told the media at the LGBI Airport on Tuesday.

A 1995-batch IAS officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, Hajela had led the mammoth NRC exercise since 2013. Earlier this month, the department of personnel and training under ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions, conforming to the apex court’s order, approved his inter-cadre deputation to Madhya Pradesh for a period of three years.

Reacting on his work related to the NRC update in Assam, Hajela said that he was confident of the quality of work he had done over the years. “I am confident of the work which was a constitutional duty I had performed during my tenure as the state coordinator,” he said.

Hajela is credited to have devised the technical concepts that guide the NRC update, where a person’s ancestry could be mapped through digital datasets which draw from decades-old documents, and the planned modus operandi for consequent rounds of physical verification.

Over 19 lakh out of 3.29 crore applicants in Assam were excluded from the final NRC list, which was published on August 31 this year.

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