Andhra Pradesh: Data theft case registered, SIT formed to probehttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/andhra-pradesh-data-theft-case-registered-sit-formed-to-probe-5616485/

Andhra Pradesh: Data theft case registered, SIT formed to probe

The case was registered in Amaravati by Andhra Pradesh police on a counter complaint by TDP alleging "a conspiracy" by YSR Congress leaders and followers and some police officials of Telangana with the aim of "stealing" data belonging to it.

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A day after it was set up, the SIT took over the two cases filed by Hyderabad and Cyberabad police against IT Grids India Pvt Ltd ‘for alleged ‘theft of data’ of voters through “Seva Mitra” mobile app, used by the TDP in Andhra Pradesh. (Representational Image) 

A case was registered in Andhra Pradesh on a data theft complaint by the ruling TDP and a SIT set up to probe it while Telangana police said sensitive data related to the state was also found in the possession of the Hyderabad-based IT company which has been booked by it.

The case was registered in Amaravati by Andhra Pradesh police on a counter complaint by TDP alleging “a conspiracy” by YSR Congress leaders and followers and some police officials of Telangana with the aim of “stealing” data belonging to it.

The Andhra Pradesh government also set up a 9-member special investigation team, headed by Additional Director General of Police-rank IPS officer N Balasubrahmanyam, to probe the alleged data theft that has now become a major contentious issue between the two neighbouring states.

In Hyderabad, the Special Investigation Team probing alleged theft of data of voters in Andhra Pradesh by the IT firm Thursday said senstive data related to Telangana was also found in the private company’s possession.

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A day after it was set up, the SIT took over the two cases filed by Hyderabad and Cyberabad police against IT Grids India Pvt Ltd ‘for alleged ‘theft of data’ of voters through “Seva Mitra” mobile app, used by the TDP in Andhra Pradesh.

“Data related to Telangana also has been found. Investigation will be made to know how they got Telangana data.. What was the need. We have suspicion they may have manipulated, ” Inspector General of Police (West Zone) Stephen Raveendra, who is heading the Telangana SIT, told reporters in Hyderabad.

He said Telangana police has jurisdiction to probe the cases.

The Cyberabad police had on March 2 registered a case against the company and conducted searches at its office here based on a complaint by a data analyst.

The complainant had alleged that the company misused personal information and sensitive data of voters in Andhra Pradesh through the ‘Seva Mitra’ mobile app.

Later, the Hyderabad Police also registered a case on a complaint which alleged that several names of persons staying in Hyderabad but are natives of Andhra Pradesh had been deleted from voter list.

According to police, preliminary investigation revealed that the company got illegal access to personal and sensitive data of individuals such as Aadhaar, electoral roll, government schemes and voters information related to various political parties, which can be misused for illegal purposes.

The case is very technical and complex, Ravindra said adding “We will identify who is the key person in the case”.

Reacting to a question on D Ashok, CEO of the company, against whom Look out Circular (LOC) has been issued, the IGP said they would nab him.

“We will find out where Ashok is… whether Amaravati or America and catch him,” he said.

Four teams have been formed to nab Ashok, after he “failed” to appear before Cyberabad Police despite being summoned as part of the probe into the case.

Andhra Pradesh Principal Secretary (Home) A R Anuradha in an order said the state SIT will investigate the case that was registered with the Tulluru police in the Amaravati capital region.

The case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code was registered Thursday based on a petition filed late Wednesday night by TDP state unit president K Kala Venkata Rao.

He had alleged that a conspiracy was hatched by YSR Congress leaders and followers and some senior police officials of Telangana government “with an object of stealing the data belonging to the Telugu Desam Party.”

The objective, according to the petition, was to cripple the party activities and also intimidate the cadre with an ultimate aim of furthering the political prospects of opposition YSRC.

Rao also alleged that they (YSRC leaders and Telangana police officials) conspired to engineer en-masse requests for deletion of names from the voters’ list, which was established by several applications being generated from same IP addresses.

In view of the above facts, the government has decided to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) for further investigation, as the investigation of the case has interstate ramification and it requires lots of technical expertise, the Principal Secretary said in her order.

The AP SIT includes four IPS officers.

Earlier, the TDP government has dismissed the charge of data theft and sought transfer of the case from Telangana to Andhra Pradesh while chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu has accused BJP and TRS of helping YSRC.

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TRS working president K T Rama Rao had said Telangana police was only probing the charges as per a complaint and asked Naidu why he should fear a probe if he had not done anything wrong.