FIR filed against ex-NRC official for not divulging key passwords after quitting; move comes after disappearance of data from official website spurs panic

  • A day after Assam NRC's data vanished from its official website, the state NRC coordinator's office has registered an FIR against a former employee

  • According to News18, NRC managing director Chandana Mahanta filed an FIR with the Paltan Bazar police station in Guwahati against former NRC project coordinator Ajupi Baruah

  • Baruah allegedly did not surrender the password of two official email ids cpm.nrc.assam@gmail.com and pm.spmunrc@gov.in when she resigned from her post on 11 November, 2019

A day after Assam National Register of Citizen's (NRC) data vanished from its official website, the state NRC coordinator's office has registered an FIR against a former employee.

According to News18 Assam North East, NRC managing director Chandana Mahanta filed an FIR with the Paltan Bazar police station in Guwahati against former NRC project coordinator Ajupi Baruah under Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act, 1932. Baruah allegedly did not surrender the password of two official email ids cpm.nrc.assam@gmail.com and pm.spmunrc@gov.in when she resigned from her post on 11 November, 2019.

In a telephonic conversation with News18 Assam North East, Baruah rejected the allegations claiming that she did not share the password fearing that might compromise the data available in them. However, when the matter was escalated to the level of a police complaint, she immediately shared it through email.

 FIR filed against ex-NRC official for not divulging key passwords after quitting; move comes after disappearance of data from official website spurs panic

Representational image. Nrcassam.nic.in

As per the report, Mahanta had sent a letter to Baruah on 3 February seeking the password of the emails concerned. Although the former project coordinator received the letter on 7 February, she left for Goa the next day. Baruah claimed that tickets were already booked for the trip on an 8 am flight on 8 February because of which she could not meet Mahanta in person. Baruah also said that she had conveyed to Mahanta that instead of sharing the password over email citing security reasons, she would share the same in person after her return from the trip.

The former NRC project coordinator said that the email id pm.spmunrc@gov.in was deactivated in 2018 itself.

The complete detail of exclusion and inclusion of bonafide Indian citizens in the NRC was uploaded on its official website www.nrcassam.nic.in after the final list was published on 31 August, 2019.

However, the data was not available for the last couple of days and it created panic in the public, mostly among the people excluded from the list as the rejection certificates were yet to be issued. When contacted, NRC State Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma accepted that the data has been made offline, but refuted the allegation of any "malafide" intent in it. The Centre later clarified that the data was safe despite some technical issues.

The cloud service for the huge set of data was provided by IT firm Wipro and their contract was till 19 October last year. However, this was not renewed by the previous coordinator Prateek Hajela. So, the data went offline from 15 December after it was suspended by Wipro, Sarma said.

Hajela is already under scrutiny for allegations of committing offences under cyber laws. Assam Public Works, an NGO, has filed an FIR against him, alleging tampering of the final list.

"It could be well understood that Hajela, with the help of certain software which were very much within his domain even after the final publication of NRC, used them to fulfil his vested interests by using official powers and position,” the APW stated in the FIR. The NGO apprehended that Hajela might still have access to the data and "may use the same for fulfilling his vested interest at any point of time".

In this context, the NRC authorities being logged out of the crucial data, while an ex-employee still holding access to passwords, have spurred panic.

The NRC exercise was carried out in Assam under the supervision of the Supreme Court and around 19 lakh people did not find themselves in the final list published in August 2019.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Feb 13, 2020 12:10:41 IST