Third party audit of NRC exercise sought

Probe graft charges, says Assam body

Published - December 30, 2019 10:14 pm IST - GUWAHATI

A file photo of people checking their names in the NRC in Assam.

A file photo of people checking their names in the NRC in Assam.

An Assam-based organisation has sought a third party audit by a reputed international agency into the software applications used in the exercise to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) besides a high-level probe into the charges of corruption against former NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela.

More than 19 lakh people out of the 3.3 crore applicants were excluded from the complete NRC that was published on August 31. Mr. Hajela relinquished his charge on November 11 after the Supreme Court, which has been monitoring the exercise, ordered his transfer to Madhya Pradesh.

The Assam Public Works (APW), whose 2009 petition in the top court led to the NRC exercise, on Monday submitted a memorandum to the new NRC coordinator, Hitesh Dev Sarma.

Naming five information technology firms, the APW said there was room for questioning the efficacy of the software they provided for the NRC exercise. The suspicion was all the more as Mr. Hajela had himself conducted the third party audit of the firms he had engaged and made them perform according to his direction, the organisation said.

“An internationally-acclaimed organisation should be engaged for the audit of the software applications and IT infrastructure,” APW president Aabhijeet Sharma said.

The APW also sought a probe into the appointment of data entry operators in certain areas, purchase of 10,000 laptops and 11,000 electric generators at allegedly inflated prices.

Alleging gross misuse of the ₹1,600 crore provided for the NRC exercise, the APW said Mr. Hajela did not allow any audit in the “name of protection from” the Supreme Court.

Anti-NPR funeral

Members of the Voters Party International on Monday took out a funeral procession of “fake democracy” to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Population Register (NPR), which, they said, was a stepping stone to a nationwide NRC.

Scores of people, mostly women, covered their faces with black masks for the 20-km rally that ended with a symbolic funeral of the “Hindutva brand” of democracy aimed at “dividing the country on communal lines”. “Instead of focussing on inflation, joblessness and the falling economy, the Modi government is promoting divisive politics through the Citizenship Act, NPR and NRC. But the people’s voices cannot be muffled for long,” party spokesperson Pabitra Boro said.

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