Skip to main content

What FIRs say on IAS officer who excluded 19 lakh citizens from Assam NRC list

By NJ Thakuria* 

Another first information report (FIR) has been lodged against the former State coordinator of National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the system integrator, sub-contractors with other persons alleging corruption and money laundering while updating the NRC in Assam that began in 2014 under supervision of the Supreme Court of India.
The petitioner Hitesh Dev Sarma, present NRC State coordinator, has filed the case against Prateek Hajela, an IAS officer currently posted in his home State of Madhya Pradesh, in the State vigilance and anti-corruption department on June 13, 2022.
Dev Sarma, also an IAS officer, claims in the complaint that a huge corruption and money laundering suspectedly took place during the tenure of Hajela in the process of NRC updation. For conducting the updation of NRC programme, the system integrator (Wipro) was given the task of supplying data entry operators (DEOs).
The system integrator was not permitted to subcontract any activities related to system design and development, deployment and enhancement of NRC software solution, data centre operation, etc. However, it engaged one sub-contractor for providing data entry operators without any prior approval from the concerned authority.
“From office record, it was found that the then State coordinator was aware of the fact that a sub-contractor was being used to provide DEOs”, though he did not officially approve the particular proposal. The system integrator was paid Rs 14,500 to 17,500 per month per DEO by the NRC authority, but “the DEOs got only Rs 5,500 to 9,100 per month” only during the years (2015 to 2019).
Dev Sarma in his complaint wrote that the DEOs were denied the minimum wage as per the country’s Minimum Wages Act. The State Accountant General in a provisional audit report observed that “the difference of margin ranged from 45.59 to 64.27 percent was exorbitant and audit assessed that undue benefit of Rs 155.83 crore was allowed to SI/labour contractor after allowing 10 percent reasonable profit margin to the contractor”, added the complaint.
Narrating about the undue benefit to the tune of Rs 155.83 crore, Dev Sarma asserted that it’s a huge amount and it is reasonable to suspect that kickbacks and money laundering must have occurred in the process. He also mentioned that during his investigation it came to light that one Proloy Seal worked as a middleman in the whole process.
Dev Sarma
“He (Proloy Seal) was neither an employee of the office of the State coordinator nor was he a contractor engaged by the office. But his presence was always seen in the office. It is suspected that he was the key person in managing all the kickbacks and money laundering. A detailed investigation into the transactions, accounts/balance sheets of the persons involved is likely to prove corruption and money laundering as suspected,” stated in the FIR.
The provisional audit report also identified an “avoidable expenditure to the tune of Rs 10.73 crore” in connection with the engagement of third-party monitoring consultants. As per the amended delegation of financial power rules, for the expenditure of more than Rs 5 crore, the then State coordinator should have obtained an approval from the empowered committee, headed by the chief secretary, or from the Registrar General of India. But the then State coordinator engaged the consultants without taking approval from the concerned authority, added it.Citing the same audit report, where it observed that “entire expenditure of Rs 10.73 crore made against the engagement of consultants was unjustified and avoidable which resulted extra burden to the government exchequer and undue benefit to the SI to that extent”, Dev Sarma claimed that a large volume of government money was siphoned off in a fraudulent manner.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that a few editor-journalists were also beneficiaries to the financial irregularities. Those media persons, precisely from news channels, took sub-contracts to supply DEOs and got a sizable percentage of money which is mentioned in Dev Sarma’s complaint. It is understood that the share of due money to the DEOs were fraudulently grabbed by those television anchor-journalists. People of Assam may remember how some television-show presenters at that time projected Hajela as a superman.
Mentionable is that Dev Sarma earlier lodged a complaint with the criminal investigation department of Assam Police against his predecessor Hajela for deceitfully including names of suspected individuals (read Bangladeshi nationals) in the NRC. He termed it as criminal and anti-national activities where Hajela deliberately used the software designed to avoid quality checks in the NRC updating exercise for Assam.
The supplementary NRC list, which was released on August 31, 2019, excluded 19,06,657 applicants because of lack of adequate citizenship papers.
---
*Guwahati-based senior journalist

Comments

TRENDING

Vaccine nationalism? Covaxin isn't safe either, perhaps it's worse: Experts

By Rajiv Shah  I was a little awestruck: The news had already spread that Astrazeneca – whose Indian variant Covishield was delivered to nearly 80% of Indian vaccine recipients during the Covid-19 era – has been withdrawn by the manufacturers following the admission by its UK pharma giant that its Covid-19 vector-based vaccine in “rare” instances cause TTS, or “thrombocytopenia thrombosis syndrome”, which lead to the blood to clump and form clots. The vaccine reportedly led to at least 81 deaths in the UK.

'Scientifically flawed': 22 examples of the failure of vaccine passports

By Vratesh Srivastava*   Vaccine passports were introduced in late 2021 in a number of places across the world, with the primary objective of curtailing community spread and inducing "vaccine hesitant" people to get vaccinated, ostensibly to ensure herd immunity. The case for vaccine passports was scientifically flawed and ethically questionable.

'Misleading' ads: Are our celebrities and public figures acting responsibly?

By Deepika* It is imperative for celebrities and public figures to act responsibly while endorsing a consumer product, the Supreme Court said as it recently clamped down on misleading advertisements.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Mired in controversy, India's polio jab programme 'led to suffering, misery'

By Vratesh Srivastava*  Following the 1988 World Health Assembly declaration to eradicate polio by the year 2000, to which India was a signatory, India ran intensive pulse polio immunization campaigns since 1995. After 19 years, in 2014, polio was declared officially eradicated in India. India was formally acknowledged by WHO as being free of polio.

In defence of Sam Pitroda: Is calling someone look like African, black racist?

By Rajiv Shah  Sam Pitroda, known as the father of Indian telecom revolution, has been in the midst of a major controversy for a remark on how Indians across the regions look different. While one can understand Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking it up for his electoral gain, suggesting it showed the racist Congress mindset, what was unpalatable to me was Congress leaders – particularly Jairam Ramesh, known for his deep intellectual understand – distancing themselves from what Pitroda had said.

Palm oil industry 'deceptively using' geenwashing to market products

By Athena*  Corporate hypocrisy is a masterclass in manipulation that mostly remains undetected by consumers and citizens. Companies often boast about their environmental and social responsibilities. Yet their actions betray these promises, creating a chasm between their public image and the grim on-the-ground reality. This duplicity and severely erodes public trust and undermines the strong foundations of our society.

'Fake encounter': 12 Adivasis killed being dubbed Maoists, says FACAM

Counterview Desk   The civil rights network* Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization (FACAM), even as condemn what it has called "fake encounter" of 12 Adivasi villagers in Gangaloor, has taken strong exception to they being presented by the authorities as Maoists.

No compensation to family, reluctance to file FIR: Manual scavengers' death

By Arun Khote, Sanjeev Kumar*  Recently, there have been four instances of horrifying deaths of sewer/septic tank workers in Uttar Pradesh. On 2 May, 2024, Shobran Yadav, 56, and his son Sushil Yadav, 28, died from suffocation while cleaning a sewer line in Lucknow’s Wazirganj area. In another incident on 3 May 2024, two workers Nooni Mandal, 36 and Kokan Mandal aka Tapan Mandal, 40 were killed while cleaning the septic tank in a house in Noida, Sector 26. The two workers were residents of Malda district of West Bengal and lived in the slum area of Noida Sector 9.