This Rtd Madhya Pradesh officer is architect of Assam’s NRC
1st September 2019
Bhopal, September 1, 2019 (Muslim Saleem): The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is currently discussed in the whole country, its main axis has been Bhopal-born Prateek Hajela. His father SP Hazela retired as an officer in Madhya Pradesh government. Prateek is the youngest of the four brothers. Elder brother Anoop is an eminent doctor. Hajela’s uncle PD Hazela has been the Vice Chancellor of Allahabad University and Sagar University. Prateek did BTech (Electronics) from IIT Delhi. Later he became IAS. There is a deep affection for technology and this is the reason that even today any information is asked from him, he starts fumbling with the facts in his Apple devices. Haven’t seen a film for six years Prateek Hajela is also fond of watching movies, but he has not been able to watch a single film since he took over as NRC. Hazela is also fond of music. He likes the ghazals of Jagjit Singh and Mehndi Hasan. He likes to talk accurately and clearly. In one conversation he told that he does not carry the burden of criticisms and allegations home. Hazela, who specializes in technology, believes in worship and believes that it gives positive power. 6.6 million papers were scrutinised As the convenor of NRC Assam, Prateek Hazela had the responsibility of scrutinizing 6.6 crore papers of 3.3 crore people. These documents were submitted by the citizens of Assam to prove that they were living in India before 24 March 1971. Story of Prateek’s association with NRC The story of Hajela joining the NRC process is very interesting. Hazela, a 1995 batch IAS officer of Assam-Meghalaya cadre, came to Silchar in Assam in July 1996 as Assistant Commissioner for the first time. Silchar was the headquarters of the Bengali-dominated Kachar district of Assam. In September 2013, the then Congress government appointed Hazela as Commissioner and then he was also made Secretary of Home and Political Department of Assam. He then also accepted the role of State Convenor as the Nodal Officer under the Registrar General of India in the process of updating the NRC. NRC process infrastructure alone Six months after his appointment, Hazela single-handedly laid the basic framework for the NRC process and by August 2014 had formed a core team of 10–12 people. Hajela was fully credited that he single-handedly created the technical concept of NRC updation. In this, mapping of the ancestors of any person could be done with digital datasets and these datasets were prepared based on decades old documents. After this, what would be the way to get the verification done by attending in person was also decided. Hazela was the brain behind all. Hajela also applied for NRC and when the first draft was released on December 31, 2017, he and his daughter were not mentioned in it. Like millions of people in the state, this father-daughter also reached for hearing in Guwahati in May 2018. He was then named in the final draft. 4 million people were out of the final draft On July 30, 2018, Hajela released the final draft along with Registrar General of India (RGI) Shailesh at a press conference at the NRC office in Guwahati which excluded 40 lakh people. After this, the Supreme Court had reprimanded him and RGI for preventing any kind of interaction with the press and said that he would be sent to jail for doing so. In the last few months, the present government of the state and the state unit of the BJP have opposed Hajela in every possible way. On 24 July, the BJP state unit said that it was working on the instructions of ‘certain forces’ to issue the erratic NRC list which also contains the names of the people living illegally. Apart from the allegations, one has to admit that the kind of work Hazela has done was very difficult and challenging.