Ex-NRC coordinator in Assam accuses AASU leader of taking bribe – aabtak24


Guwahati, Feb 16, 2023, IANS

Guwahati, Feb 16 (IANS): The former National Registrar of Citizens (NRC) state coordinator in Assam Hitesh Dev Sarma has accused All Assam Student’s Union (AASU) leader Samujjal Bhattacharya of taking a bribe from Dev Sarma’s predecessor, Prateek Hajela.

On Thursday, in a Facebook post, Dev Sarma wrote, “I was NRC state coordinator for more than two-and-a-half years. But, the AASU leadership never turned up to meet me despite that I unearthed the anomalies happened earlier during the NRC updation exercise. Samujjal Bhattacharya used to visit the NRC state coordinator’s office every afternoon when Hajela was in charge of the office. Why? The news in the market is that Samujjal Bhattacharya took bribe of 16 lakhs per month from Hajela to cover the anomalies happened in NRC exercise. I don’t know the truth, but an investigation into this matter can divulge the details. However, it is true that Samujjal Bhattacharya never demanded the reverification of the NRC.”

The former NRC coordinator further alleged that AASU leadership believed that Hajela was an efficient officer and he was advised not to speak against Prateek Hajela by another AASU leader Basanta Deka, another Facebook post of Dev Sarma mentioned.

When IANS reached him on the phone, Dev Sarma said, “I have written everything on Facebook. This is not my opinion, I wrote what most of the people here think about AASU leader Bhattacharya.”

He demanded an investigation into this matter.

Reacting to the allegation, Bhattacharya told IANS, “Hitesh Dev Sarma is a complete liar, and his claim that I had taken a bribe of 16 lakh rupees is totally false. He has lost his mental balance, and I would suggest that he consult a doctor. I am holding a discussion with the lawyers to lodge a defamation suit against him.”

The students’ body leader further said that AASU was the first petitioner in the Supreme Court to demand a reverification of the whole NRC exercise.

Since the final draught list of citizens was released on August 31, 2019, the Supreme Court-monitored NRC effort to weed out “illegal immigrants” from Assam has been in limbo. Of the 3.3 crore candidates, 19.06 lakh were excluded from the list due to doubts regarding their citizenship.

Less than three months after the publication of the final draught of the NRC, the Supreme Court ordered Hajela’s transfer to his home state of Madhya Pradesh. This occurred, it appears, because the BJP-led Assam government found the list of citizens to be inaccurate and requested the re-verification of 10-20 per cent of the names in all the districts.

In November 2019, a month after he left Assam, Dev Sarma succeeded Hajela. In July last year, Hitesh Dev Sarma retired from the post of NRC state coordinator.

In the meantime, Dev Sarma filed a police complaint in May last year, accusing his predecessor of treason for willfully permitting errors in the NRC draft list preparation process. Additionally, Hajela was charged with money laundering intended for the NRC exercise.


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