Defined | Bengaluru’s voter information theft case and political storm in Karnataka

Explained | Bengaluru’s voter data theft case and political storm in Karnataka

2022-11-24 15:56:02

Police have arrested six people, including Krishnappa Ravikumar, the prime accused in the voter data theft case. Meanwhile, three revenue officers have been suspended and 45 revenue officers have been questioned by the police.

Police have arrested six folks, together with Krishnappa Ravikumar, the prime accused within the voter information theft case. In the meantime, three income officers have been suspended and 45 income officers have been questioned by the police.
| Photograph Credit score: Okay. Bhagya Prakash

The story thus far: On November 16, Bengaluru’s civic physique, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) stated in a press launch that it had cancelled permission granted to Chilume Academic Cultural and Rural Growth Belief, an NGO, to conduct house-to-house survey to assist create consciousness about Systematic Voters’ Training and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) for allegedly accumulating private data from the general public.

A day after this, a political storm began in Karnataka after the Opposition Congress referred to as it voter information “theft” by the NGO impersonating BBMP officers, and alleged that the ruling BJP was trampling democracy.

For the reason that scandal broke out, the police have arrested six folks, together with Krishnappa Ravikumar, the prime accused within the voter information theft case and co-founder of Chilume NGO. In the meantime, three income officers have been suspended thus far and 45 income officers have been questioned by the police.

What’s the voter information theft case?

In March 2018, permission was granted by the BBMP to Chilume Academic Cultural and Rural Growth Belief for house-to-house visits to create consciousness in direction of making on-line functions through the voters’ helpline cellular app.

On November 2, 2022, the BBMP revoked permission to Chilume to hold out the SVEEP marketing campaign after receiving a number of complaints from residents that the NGO was accumulating private particulars whereas conducting door-to-door surveys by deputing discipline degree employees.

BBMP Chief Commissioner Tushar Giri Nath had earlier stated, “The Belief has violated the circumstances of the permission. Due to this fact, the permission has been withdrawn with fast impact… We attraction to the general public to not share their voter ID particulars with the representatives of the Belief.”

The Congress occasion has alleged the NGO of large-scale electoral fraud, malpractice and manipulation of voters’ record within the title of consciousness and in addition by growing an app — referred to as Digital Sameeksha — the place the non-public data of the voter — together with Aadhaar quantity, cellphone quantity, Voter ID quantity — was uploaded and misused.

The police are recovering the info that has potential for misuse. They’ve damaged open the places of work of the Belief in Malleswaram in west Bengaluru and have recovered digital units from the premises.

What are the allegations towards the NGO?

Chilume Academic Cultural and Rural Growth Belief has been accused of accumulating private data of voters, with its members posing as BBMP officers in some circumstances.

The Congress alleged that Chilume dedicated a brazen fraud of accumulating voter information by having privately employed workers impersonate BBMP officers and in addition issuing them BLO (Sales space Stage Officers) ID playing cards.

The NGO had developed a cellular software the place its workers, posing as BLOs, went door to door in just a few Meeting constituencies and picked up voter information together with private data, which was straight uploaded to the app.

In line with the Congress, the NGO’s floor degree workers have been importing important voter data onto the Digital Sameeksha app owned by its sister concern, Chilume Enterprises Pvt. Ltd. The data was not uploaded on the Election Fee’s official voter registration helpline Garuda or Voter Helpline.

BBMP officers say the NGO was conducting the notice marketing campaign on SVEEP freed from price for the civic physique. The query is, how was Chilume capable of rent discipline degree officers and conduct the free consciousness marketing campaign, because the supply of the cash continues to stay unknown. Police investigations are on.

Who’re the prime accused?

On November 20, police arrested Krishnappa Ravikumar, co-founder of Chilume Academic Cultural and Rural Growth Belief, who had been absconding for the reason that scandal broke out.

In line with the police, Ravikumar is a realtor from Dobbaspet, with hyperlinks to many politicians by means of his cellphone and e-mail. His interrogation is predicted to disclose the true extent of the fraud and the case.

Earlier, the police had arrested Kempegowda, one of many administrators of the Belief. In addition they detained the principle software program developer of the Digital Sameeksha app. The police are analysing the app to establish what information was collected and for whom it was meant.

The police arrested Dharanesh and Renuka Prasad in reference to the case. They have been produced earlier than the courtroom and brought into police custody for additional investigation.

Opposition Congress amps up assault, calls for ECI probe

The Congress, on November 23, submitted a petition to the Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Fee of India, searching for an pressing investigation by the ECI into alleged “large-scale electoral fraud, malpractice, and manipulation of voters’ record’ in Bengaluru by the Karnataka authorities.”

Within the petition, All India Congress Committee basic secretary in-charge of Karnataka and MP Randeep Singh Surjewala and KPCC president D.Okay. Shivakumar urged that the “ECI should provoke legal regulation and make sure the registration of an FIR towards Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, and officers and workers of the BBMP and the State authorities concerned within the rip-off, and officers of the non-public entities and NGOs who’ve dedicated the fraud underneath political patronage”.

“All this has been accomplished with a view to affect and tamper with the non-public data of voters and add or delete names from voters’ record for malicious electoral issues as a way to affect the end result of elections,” they stated.

BJP hits again at Congress

In the meantime, the BJP denied the Congress’s allegations and launched a counter-attack alleging that the NGO was first given permission by the earlier Congress authorities.

The BJP submitted a petition to the ECI on November 22 stating that the NGO was roped in in the course of the Congress regime in 2017 and sought motion towards the occasion.

Police probe continues

The BBMP has registered two FIRs in Bengaluru towards the NGO underneath sections 406 (legal breach of belief), 419 (dishonest by personation), 420 (dishonest) and 468 (forgery) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

On November 21, the police issued notices to twenty Income officers, who’re in-charge of electoral roll revision and linking of Aadhaar card with electoral rolls. Hours later, the BBMP suspended Income Officers in three Meeting constituencies — Mahadevapura, Shivaji Nagar, and Chickpet — pending departmental inquiry for alleged dereliction of obligation.

The suspension orders stated these officers have been discovered to have issued ID playing cards to volunteers from the Belief tasked with finishing up the SVEEP marketing campaign as block-level coordinators (BLCs), in violation of norms.

The town police have recovered a number of BLO ID playing cards of these related to the Belief and are probing their supply. They’ve additionally issued notices to 45 Income officers.

The police are additionally inspecting the contents of the computer systems seized from the NGO workplace with the assistance of cyber consultants.

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