National

‘Tampering’ complaint against former Assam NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela

Former Coordinator of the NRC in Assam, Prateek Hajela. File photo

Former Coordinator of the NRC in Assam, Prateek Hajela. File photo  

Inquiry sought into Hajela’s involvement in ‘cybercrime in the whole process of NRC’: FIR against his former associate for resigning without surrendering the password to data records system

A complaint has been lodged against Prateek Hajela, the former Coordinator of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, for allegedly tampering with the records associated with updating the citizenship exercise whose complete list was published in August 2019.

Almost simultaneously on Wednesday, the office of the NRC Coordinator lodged an FIR against Ajupi Baruah, a former associate of Mr. Hajela, for resigning without surrendering the password to the NRC data records system.

 

In its complaint to the CID office in Guwahati, the Assam Public Works (APW) asked the Deputy Inspector General of Police to register a case against Mr. Hajela for “tempering (sic) the valuable public records, i.e., NRC final list of Assam”. It also sought an inquiry into the former coordinator’s involvement in “cybercrime in the whole process of NRC”.

The APW is the NGO whose petition in the Supreme Court in 2009 led to the NRC updating exercise.

Mr. Hajela had relinquished his charge on November 11, 2019, after the Supreme Court, which has been monitoring the NRC exercise, ordered his transfer to his home State Madhya Pradesh.

The role of Ms. Baruah, who quit as Project Manager of the NRC, on the same day as Mr. Hajela, has also come under a cloud with NRC’s Executive Director Chandana Mahanta lodging a complaint against her at the Paltanbazar police station in Guwahati.

According to Ms. Mahanta’s complaint, Ms. Baruah resigned and handed over charge on November 11 last year but did not share the password of the official email IDs cpm.nrc.assam@gmail.com and pm.spmunrc@gov.in.

Ms. Mahanta also said the emails contain very sensitive correspondences and information on the NRC, and action needed to be taken against Ms. Baruah for unauthorised possession of passwords of email IDs linked with an exercise monitored by the Supreme Court.

The police said they have begun an investigation.

NRC data secure

State NRC Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma has said that the NRC data were fully secure offline and that his office as well as that of the Registrar General of India (RGI) has the backup.

“There should not be any fear of loss of NRC data. We have the backup of the database while the office of the RGI has the backup in its disaster recovery site for use in case of damage of the database here,” he said.

The Union Home Ministry had earlier said “some technical issue” had made the NRC data unavailable online.

Mr. Sarma said Wipro had been awarded the task of providing the cloud service, which enabled the people to view a part of the NRC data online. The contract between the NRC office and Wipro ended in October 2019 but the firm provided the service for some more time for the data to be available online.

A statement from Wipro said the IT firm continued to pay the hosting service fee as a “goodwill gesture” until January 2020 despite the contract having ended four months before. The firm said it would be willing to provide the services again if the agreement is renewed.

The final NRC published on August 31, 2019, had excluded 19,06,657 people. A total of 3,11,21,004 names were included out of 3,30,27,661 applicants.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 9:00:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tampering-complaint-against-former-assam-nrc-coordinator-prateek-hajela/article30807851.ece

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