FIR against former NRC official after data goes offline; Prateek Hajela also faces probe
Case lodged under provisions of Official Secrets Act for non-submission of email passwords; NRC petitioner files separate case against former Assam NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela.Updated: Feb 13, 2020 11:25 IST
The Assam Police have lodged a case against a former woman employee who failed to submit passwords of email IDs before quitting office, due to which the state’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) data went offline.
The entire data of the final NRC list for Assam released last year went offline in January after authorities failed to renew its contract with Wipro, the IT contractor responsible for storage of the details.
The final list had excluded names of 19 lakh applicants of the total 3.3 crore who filed applied for inclusion. With the data going offline, they are not able to check their status or download the list for records.
NRC executive director Chandana Mahanta on Wednesday lodged a complaint against the former woman project manager (name withheld) accusing her of not sharing passwords of two official email IDs before she resigned in November last year.
“The NRC updation process is very sensitive in nature and is being done under then direct supervision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The emails mentioned above contains very sensitive correspondences/information on NRC,” said the complaint.
“Unauthorised possession of the passwords by her (the woman employee) is in violation of the Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923, as it is related to national security and integrity,” it added.
Inspector Utpal Changmai, office-in-charge of Paltanbazar police station where the case had been lodged, informed that investigations are underway and they would be questioning the concerned woman employee.
The woman employee hasn’t responded to HT yet, but she told a local television channel over phone that she had not shared the passwords due to fear that they will be leaked. She added that after the data went offline and the matter was brought to her notice, the passwords have been shared with NRC officials.
Meanwhile, Assam Public Works (APW), a local NGO who is the original petitioner in the Supreme Court (based on which the apex court directed updating of the register), has lodged an FIR against Prateek Hajela, the former state NRC coordinator.
Officials in Assam have accused Hajela, who got transferred to Madhya Pradesh in November last year following Supreme Court’s directives, of failing to renew the contract with Wipro after it expired in October, which resulted in the data going offline.
According to reports, the woman employee resigned from her post within days of Hajela’s transfer to Madhya Pradesh.
In its FIR lodged with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) last week, APW has accused Hajela of tampering with the NRC final list, violation of Supreme Court’s directives, forgery and cyber crime among others.
“There are specific instances in which two persons declared foreigners by tribunals getting included in NRC final list as citizens. But when we raised the issue, their application status got changed from ‘Accept’ to ‘Reject’. This shows Hajela must have accessed the NRC data and tampered with it illegally,” said APW president Aabhijeet Sharma.