‘Service charge’ adds to bribes, forgery in Assam NRC exercise

first_imgThe police in western Assam’s Dhubri town have detained two special verification officers assigned the job of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for demanding ‘service charge’ from people summoned to submit documents establishing their citizenship.The detention on Sunday evening follows reports of people offering bribes, submitting forged documents or borrowing legacy data of genuine citizens to be included in the second NRC draft that the Supreme Court wants updated by May.First draftThe first draft, recognising 1.9 crore of the 3.29 applicants who can prove they have been living in Assam before March 24, 1971, was published at the stroke of midnight on December 31.“Special verification officer Fardous Zaman, sectional assistant in PWD Roads, and his deputy Swapan Dutta, a gram panchayat secretary, were detained after a complaint that they had demanded ₹300 to get the documentation of a couple from Tamarhat done on April 19,” said Longnit Terang, Dhubri Superintendent of Police.The duo had allegedly demanded ₹100 from the couple but later increased it to ₹300. The resultant delay forced the couple to stay at the house of a relative who works at the Dhubri Deputy Commissioner’s office. His complaint to the district’s administrative head led to Zaman and Dutta’s detention.“Though the duo are accused of seeking gratification money in NSK2 (NRC Seva Kendra number 2, at the office of inspector of schools, Dhubri), the case is not of manipulation of documents,” Mr. Terang said.Officials handling the NRC exercise did not rule out the possibility of similar cases across the 1,093 verification centres in Assam.Last week, the police in Darrang district’s Sipajhar arrested two people of suspected nationality – San Khan and Nayan Khan – for offering to bribe ₹20,000 to the NRC officials for including their names in the second draft.Officials said at least half a dozen such cases have been reported from central Assam’s Nagaon and Morigaon districts with some offering up to ₹2 lakh to get their names included in the NRC.By the first week of April, the NRC authorities identified more than 4,000 people who submitted forged papers despite having been declared foreigners by 100 Foreigners’ Tribunals across the State. Apart from government employees, the probe revealed several village heads were issuing fake domicile certificates.One such village head, Moijan Ali of Soulmari village in Biswanath district, had been charging ₹500 for each fake document.The NRC authorities received a setback earlier this month when Ali Ahmed, who was declared a foreigner in 2011, filed a review petition in the Gauhati High Court saying he cannot be an illegal immigrant as his name figured in the first draft of the updated NRC. The NRC authorities blamed it on faulty data collection by the State’s border police.Borrowed legacy dataOfficials said there have been several cases of people using legacy data of others to establish their family trees. In Nagaon district, for instance, a person named Fakaruddin, son of Umed Ali, tried to pass off as Suresh Das by using one Robi Das’s legacy data. Verification officials caught Fakaruddin’s bluff when Robi Das – both were called to the NSK concerned – could not recognise him.In another case reported from Barpeta district, one Abdul Salam was caught trying to pass his second wife Kadbanu as his first wife Kanchan Nessa, who died a few years ago. The second wife could not submit papers to establish her citizenship, officials said.Meanwhile, 85 companies of Central armed forces have been deployed in Assam apprehending trouble in certain parts during the process. More than half of these companies were provided before the publication of the first draft on December 31.last_img