An FIR was filed against a 32-year-old former employee of the state’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) office on Wednesday for “not sharing the password of two official email IDs” before resigning.
“The NRC updation project is very sensitive in nature. The emails mentioned contain very sensitive correspondence/information on NRC. Unauthorised possession of the password by her is a violation of Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923 as it is related to national security and integrity,” stated the FIR filed at Guwahati’s Paltan Bazar Police station on a complaint by Chandana Mahanta, Department & Executive Director, NRC, Assam.
This development comes a day after NRC data on the official website became inaccessible due to non-renewal of contract with Wipro. “This FIR has nothing to do with the data glitch,” said NRC state coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma, “The employee concerned left office on November 11and did not hand in the password for three months. In the interim, we suspect emails could have been deleted or tampered with.”
One of the two email IDs concerned is a Gmail account. The other is a ‘gov.in’ account.
The former employee who worked as a Project Manager in the NRC office from May 2014 to November 2019 said the two email IDs were mostly used for internal office work. “The gmail one was active. The other one was almost defunct. If there was any official correspondence on it, those were filed immediately. So there is nothing on those emails that is not there in the files,” she said, adding that the NRC office asked for the passwords on February 7. “I was out of town so I informed the office verbally that I will hand them over in person on February 17 once I am back. They agreed. But last evening, I was shocked when I received the news about the FIR,” she said.
Utpal Changmai, officer-in-charge of Paltan Bazar police station, said investigation was underway. “We will question the employee. We have registered a case under sections 409, 204 and 166 of the IPC.”
The employee maintained that she had done a “proper handover” before her last day at the office, November 11, 2019. Former NRC state coordinator, Prateek Hajela, was released from office the same day.
Hajela, now posted in Bhopal, has been booked in another FIR following a complaint by Assam Public Works, the NGO which originally petitioned the Supreme Court about the NRC updation.
“This is our third complaint against Hajela,” said APW president Aabhijeet Sharma, “The first two were lodged last year and this one was lodged last week with the CID,” he said. The allegations include “tampering the final NRC list published on August 31, 2019, making false documents, committing offences under cyber laws for altering / changing the public records by misusing his powers and positions”.
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