Assam NRC updation: State coordinator Prateek Hajela accuses Al Jazeera of misquoting him in article

As Assam updates its National Register of Citizens (NRC), the official responsible for overseeing the programme has accused Al Jazeera of misquoting him in an article.

The Al Jazeera article, written by Subir Bhaumik, quoted NRC Assam coordinator Prateek Hajela as saying that some 4.8 million people in Assam "failed to provide appropriate legacy documents" so far. The list will be the second draft to be published for the state.

In a Facebook post, Hajela rejected ever speaking to Bhaumik. "I hereby declare that I haven’t given any such statement to Al Jazeera or Subir Bhaumik or to any other media person or media agency ever," Hajela wrote on Facebook.  He added that he "didn’t have any conversation" with Bhaumik on any matter related to the NRC "ever".

He further rejected the contents of the statements attributed to him, and claimed they are "totally false and not based on facts at all".

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court refused to extend the 31 May deadline for the ongoing process of publication of the final NRC in Assam in the wake of panchayat elections, saying the polls should not become an impediment.

The top court, however, spared the additional deputy commissioner rank officer, currently engaged in NRC updation work, for the local bodies elections scheduled for April.

 Assam NRC updation: State coordinator Prateek Hajela accuses Al Jazeera of misquoting him in article

File image of NRC Assam coordinator Prateek Hajela. Reuters

"We have already said that the deadline for updation of NRC is May 31 and the next 30 days for cross-checking of data till 30 June. It can't go beyond that and complete final draft should be ready by then. You deploy your surplus employees or request neighbouring states, but no employee engaged in NRC work can be spared or disturbed," a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and RF Nariman said.

The bench's remark came after the state government said the panchayat elections were due next month and urged that the employees engaged in NRC work be allowed to be deployed for the polls.

The first draft NRC for Assam was published on 31 December, 2017 as per the apex court's direction. It tagged about 1.9 crore of the 3.29 crore Assam residents as ‘legal’.

The apex court said that claims of those citizens, whose names do not figure in the draft NRC for Assam published by the end of December 2017 would be scrutinised and included in the subsequent list, if found genuine.

The NRC of 1951 is being updated for Assam in accordance with the tripartite agreement among the state and central governments and the influential All Assam Students Union (AASU), which was arrived at in 2005 to implement the 1985 Assam Accord.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Mar 31, 2018 15:56:20 IST