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Friday, May 24, 2024

FIR against Prateek Hajela for including ineligible persons in NRC list

State National Register of Citizens (NRC) coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma has lodged an FIR with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Assam Police against former NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela for fraudulently including the names of ineligible persons in the NRC list through special software.

Sarma lodged the FIR against Hejela under sections 120 B, 166 A, 167, 181, 218, 420, 466 read with Sec 34 and other relevant sections of the IPC for compromising national security and contempt of the Supreme Court directive.

In the FIR, Sarma said that Hajela willfully avoided the verification of 33,794 persons out of 64,247 people marked as “Originally Inhabitant of Assam” of Chamaria circle in particular and re-verification of “Ol” markings of other circles as a whole to facilitate entry of ineligible persons’ names into NRC.

“It is suspected that despite the mandate of the Supreme Court for an error-free NRC, the then state coordinator, NRC Prateek Hajela may have intentionally avoided the mandatory quality check by ordering use of a software which prevented quality check and facilitated the entry of names of an ineligible person into the NRC which can be seen as an anti-national act affecting the national security, Sarma said in the FIR.

To evaluate the precise effects of the absence of Quality Check (QC) in the Family Tree Matching, some sample checks were now made on the results of the Family Tree Matching for some Legacy Data Code (LDCs) used under three NSKs- namely Baghbar 29, Kalgachia 6 (these two in Barpeta district) and Dalgaon 6 (in Darrang district) through limited manpower in the office, the FIR said.

The total No of Legacy Data Code (LDC) used in the state is 39,29,703, the number of Legacy Data Code (LDC) verified in 3 NSKS is 2,346, and the number of names erroneously entered into NRC through FT Match is 975.

975 persons were entered into the draft NRC through wrong uploading of data from out of 2,346 LDCS checked, i.e. against 975 persons the Family Tree Matching result should have been “NO” but uploading of the result was made as “YES”, the FIR also said.

A large number of erroneous entries (error out of legacy code verified) into the draft NRC were found in the sample check, which is very high by any standard and which perhaps cannot be taken as unintentional human error.

Thus, the purpose of the Family Tree Matching was found to be completely vitiated.

The list of officers and Data Entry Operators is prepared only on the basis of a sample check only. Had there been scope for verifying the whole database, the figure of errors would have been much more. The uploading of wrong results in such a large number cannot be seen as a normal error but an intentional act threatening national security.

Abetment of Prateek Hajela in this anti-national act cannot be ruled out as he used the software which had no provision of Quality Checks enabling the Verifying Officers and the Data Entry operators to freely upload wrong results of Family Tree Matching with an ulterior motive, the FIR alleged.

Office Verification of documents submitted by the applicants was done by sending the scan of such documents to the issuing authority to ascertain the genuineness of documents, which is called back-end verification. This process was started in October 2015.

The back-end verification was almost a full-proof method to detect the submission of false/forged documents. About 6.5 crore documents were sent to the issuing authorities for back-end verification and verification results of all the documents could not be received timely, the FIR further said.

Results of some documents were received as ‘NO’ under the categories of FD (Forged document), RNA (Record Not Available) or ILL (Illegible), and Invalid Document (ID), while a large chunk of documents remained pending with the issuing authorities for which no backend results could be received.

In December 2017, the practice of office verification was suddenly done away with and documents of the above-mentioned categories except FD were reviewed through District Magistrate Investigation Team (DMIT).

The DMITS were asked to check and compare the original documents and determine the authenticity of those documents through their subjective decisions where the result of back-end verification was “NO”.

In the initial phase of DMIT (Round 1), the DMIT team would visit house to house and carry out the investigation for those documents where results were received from the issuing authorities as NO the reason being RNA or ILL, the FIR read.

The verification team (VT) would record their findings subjectively in a prescribed format. This round of DMIT (Round-1) started in November 2017, which is way ahead of the order of March 27, 2018, of the Supreme Court whereby it was ordered that “By way of abundant caution, we permit the learned State Coordinator, NRC, Assam, in the event of such verification reports are not received by the first week of May 2018, to complete the process through DM’s Investigation (i.e., through house-to-house re-verification) which may be completed by May 31 2018, the FIR said.

DMIT-1 was conducted for 24,89,745 persons whose documents were found not acceptable in the back end verification (Office Verification) and out of the said figure of 24,89,745 persons,10,75,206 persons were marked “Yes” and 2,11,153 persons were marked as “No”.

The exercise was allowed by Hajela in violation of an order of the Supreme Court which facilitated the entry of ineligible persons’ names into NRC whose document verification results were negative in the primary back-end document verification.

Hajela knowingly disobeyed the direction of law as to the way in which he is to conduct himself as a public servant, intending to cause injury to the genuine citizens as well as to endanger national security by ensuring the presence of doubtful persons inimical to the security of the nation.

In the Field Verification, decisions were taken on the eligibility of persons under Clause 3(3) of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizen and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. The decision of the Local Registrars of Citizens Registration (LRCRS) on the eligibility of a person under Clause 3(3) (eligibility as Originally Inhabitant of Assam) was left to the Circle Registrar of Citizen Registration (CRCR) first for vetting through software called Xiddhanta Online.

After the CRCR vetting was done, the data was to be sent to the District Registrar of Citizen Registration (DRCR) for final vetting, (i.e. marking the person as 3(3) or Non-3(3) (others)). Following this, the DRCR was to take a decision on the CRCR’s recommendation and the LRCR’s decision. It however appears that the vetting of DRCR/CRCR was not done properly.

On June 28, 2019, Kamrup’s deputy commissioner submitted a report on wrongly marking applicants as Originally Inhabitants (Ol). In his report, it was said that “a total of 1,43,522 members applied for NRC under Chamaria circle.

Out of which 64.247 members have been marked 3(3) and their names have already been entered in the draft NRC Chamaria circle, as is well known, is inhabited by a substantial immigrant population.

He also reported that some random verification was done and 14,183 were found who do not fall under the 3(3) categories, but they had been wrongly marked as 3(3).

“This can be treated as not only a dereliction of duty but an act of treason for doing such an activity which is likely to threaten the national security. From the very beginning Hajela had the intention to do it which constitutes a serious criminal offence besides endangering national security,” Sarma said in the FIR.

On August 5, 6 and 7, 2019, a special verification was conducted against 30,791 people (out of 64,247 reported by Kamrup deputy commissioner under Chamaria circle. During re-verification, 7,446 out of 30,791 persons were found ineligible for inclusion in the supplementary list of NRC.

Of these 7,446 people found ineligible, as many as 8 were declared foreigners, 2 were descendants of declared foreigners, 19 were doubtful voters, 43 were descendants of doubtful voters, 13 cases were pending in the Foreigners Tribunal, and 10 were of descendants of persons whose matters were pending in the Foreigners Tribunals, Sarma said.

Of 23,345 people who were found eligible for inclusion into the NRC, only 107 persons were found eligible on “Originally Inhabitant ground and the remaining 23,238 were found eligible on different grounds other than the ground of Originally Inhabitant of Assam.

This leads to the inevitable conclusion that 30,684 persons were wrongly entered into the draft NRC through Clause 3(3) Identification. The remaining 33,794 out of 64,247 marked as “Originally Inhabitant of Assam” were not called for re-verification and it is likely that majority of this lot was wrongly entered into the draft NRC through “Originally Inhabitant of Assam identification, it said.

A similar exercise was however not done in other parts of the state, thus leading to the suspicion that there might be more ineligible persons whose names have been entered into the NRC through the window of Clause 3(3). the Originally Inhabitant criteria, against whom there was no provision for further verification.

A team from the office of the state coordinator headed by the executive director was sent to Lahorighat circle and Dhing circle in October 2020. The team made some sample checks on Ol marked persons and found that out of 10 names marked as Ol in the Dhing circle, 8 names were not from the Ol community. Similarly, out of 6 names marked as Ol in Lahorighat Circle, 2 names were found not from the Ol community, it added.

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