FIRs against Assam ex-NRC official Hajela amid row over vanishing data
13 February 2020
A day after it emerged that Assam's updated citizenship data had vanished from the website "nrcassam.nic.in", the state NRC coordinator's office on Wednesday filed an FIR against a former official for allegedly not "surrendering" the central data access password in her custody before quitting the job, following the transfer of her ex-boss Prateek Hajela.
Both the central and state governments, however, are trying to assuage fears over missing data related to the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) of Assam from the official website, saying that the data is "safe" and that it will be available online soon.
The explanation is that the NRC data went offline because of some technical issues, which would be addressed soon.
Meanwhile, in another FIR filed by the NGO Assam Public Works, former NRC coordinator Hajela was accused of "cyber crime" during the six-year NRC exercise conducted under his supervision. "We have requested the CID to register a case against Hajela for tampering with valuable public records and conduct an inquiry into his involvement in cyber crime during the process of updating the NRC," said Abhijit Sarma, president of the NGO behind the 2009 petition that led the SC order for the NRC process in Assam.
While the home ministry attributed the missing of data to technical issues, NRC staff in Bengaluru maintained that the cloud-storage blackout was caused by a delay in renewing the subscription for services provided by Wipro.
"The Bengaluru-headquartered company has claimed pending dues totalling Rs70 crore, which includes the cloud-storage subscription fee. Our estimate is about Rs60 crore. We are in the process of reconciling this," an official said.
Either way, home ministry affairs said the citizenship data uploaded to the official website last October was "safe but no longer visible because of some technical issues".
"The IT Services Contract was not renewed by the authorities upon its expiry in October 2019. However, as a gesture of goodwill, Wipro continued to pay the hosting service fee until January-end 2020," according to a statement issued by Wipro.
NRC officials say the subscription couldn't be renewed on time as there was no coordinator after Hajela's inter-cadre deputation to MP on the Supreme Court's orders.
They declined to say if there was any link between the vanishing data and the FIR filed against the former official. They merely said, "We have filed a complaint against a former NRC official for violating the Official Secrets Act. Since she did not surrender the access password, even authorised officers are unable to access the system."