Frequent transfer of officials poses problems in updation of NRC

The Asian Age.  | manoj anand

India, All India

3,500 officials needed to complete verification of applicants before July 31 deadline; it is still unclear if govt will provide manpower.

A file photo of Assam residents filing documents as part of the process for updation of the National Register of Citizens.

Guwahati: As Assam prepares for the final phase of National Register of Citizens (NRC) update, frequent transfer of officials by the state administration has upset the NRC authorities, which require 3,500 officials of various ranks to complete the process within the stipulated timeframe.

Sources said it was not clear whether the government will make available 3,500 officials of various ranks required for the smooth functioning of the process within the timeframe even as the NRC authorities have started preparing for hearings and verification of the claims and objections filed on the draft of the NRC.

Admitting that frequent transfer of officials was posing problems in the way of updating the NRC, sources pointed out that supervisory officers which includes the deputy commissioners, sub-divisional officers and circle officers are the key component of the updating process.

Sources regretted that the state government has been transferring officers quite frequently and a new officer, particularly the supervisory officers need time to understand the ground realities and the capabilities of the persons working under them as the process of updating the NRC is a complex process and one cannot expect an officer to start working smoothly immediately after taking over charge in a new place.

Sources said that as per the schedule, the notices have been sent to the people who would have to appear before the officers for hearings with relevant documents for the first 15 days. The notices for the next phase would be sent out only after getting confirmation from the government on the number of officers to be deployed for the job. The NRC coordinator’s office is planning to complete the process of hearing and verification of the claims and objections by June 15 as at least 45 days would be required for quality check so that the deadline of July 31 set by the Supreme Court for publication of the final NRC can be met.

It is significant that around 36 lakh persons, whose names did not appear in the draft of the NRC, have filed claims, while, more than two lakh objections were also filed and sources revealed that a strict monitoring mechanism has been put in place to ensure that no foreigner can get his or her name included in the NRC.

The timeframe of updating the NRC has become more challenging for the authorities as the Supreme Court has refused to extend the deadline for publication of the final NRC because of the ensuing Lok Sabha elections.

The apex court in its last hearing on February 5, criticised the state and Central governments for their failure to play the desired role in ensuring that the NRC is published on time. The state government failed to assure the court that the required officers would be deployed for NRC work during the elections.

The apex court was not happy as the Centre failed to give a categorical assurance that required forces would be made available for NRC duty during the elections.

Nearly 167 companies of Central paramilitary forces are deployed in the state to ensure that there is no disturbance during the NRC updating process. Despite apprehensions from different quarters, the publication of the draft NRC passed off peacefully and security agencies are hoping that the rest of the process would also pass off without trouble. The security agencies have ruled out the chances of any law and order problem at the time of publications of final NRC.