Official on NRC duty complains of overwork, rights violation

Leave apart extra payment, we have not even been reimbursed the expenses involved, he says

July 20, 2019 11:03 pm | Updated 11:03 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Hands full: Officials checking the names on the draft NRC in Nagaon district.

Hands full: Officials checking the names on the draft NRC in Nagaon district.

People facing possible statelessness are not the only ones feeling the National Register of Citizens (NRC) heat. The stress of the updating exercise appears to have taken a toll on the Assam government officials.

On July 18, a State government employee named Jyotiprasad Das took to social media complaining about doing two jobs at a time for “no additional honorarium” while referring to demands for re-verification of names published in the draft NRC.

Some 40,000 employees have been handling the NRC exercise since its launch five years ago. Mr. Das’s profile says he works with the Agriculture Department.

Assam-based NGOs and the Central and the State governments had a few days ago appealed to the Supreme Court for re-verification of 20% names in the districts bordering Bangladesh and 10% in the other districts. The Cachar, Dhubri, Hailakandi and South Salmara-Mankachar districts border Bangladesh.

The deadline for publishing the final NRC is July 31. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the re-verification plea on July 23, and granting it could extend the deadline.

“Some organisations and the government want re-verification. Our opinions do not count. Let the apex court decide on what is best. But is there anything called human rights?” Mr .Das asked on his Facebook page in Assamese on July 18.

“For the last five years, we have been forced to do two jobs simultaneously. Leave apart extra payment, we have not even been reimbursed the expenses involved. We, the employees, have had to spend lakhs of rupees [for discharging NRC duty]. Please relieve us and use another set of employees,” he said.

Mr. Das also said if re-verification happens, the government should take care of expenditure to be incurred by everyone. “Otherwise, we will do great injustice to the poor people who have lost everything [because of NRC].”

The NRC has been an expensive exercise. The Registrar General of India in July 2018 said the process had cost more than ₹1,220 crore.

There had been occasions when data entry operators used for the exercise struck work a few times for non-payment of their salaries. The NRC authority had outsourced their payment to a major information technology firm, which in turn outsourced the recruitment to a Guwahati-based firm.

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