Data theft planned to remove names from electoral list, says KTR

Hyderabad/Amaravati: After the Telangana Police on Saturday filed a case against a Hyderabad-based IT firm for allegedly stealing data of voters through the ‘SevaMitra’ mobile application, which was used by the ruling TDP, a political row broke out in Andhra Pradesh.

Even as the Telangana police claimed that the firm had illegal access to details of voters, the Chief Minister yesterday alleged that a conspiracy was at play to help Jaganmohan Reddy of YSR Congress and sought the transfer of the case from the Telangana police to AP as per the CrPC.

Raids were held on Saturday and Sunday under sections of the IPC and the IT Act in the presence of four employees of the firm, after the police received a complaint from a data analyst who alleged that he found the TDP cadres were using certain software applications, especially ‘Seva Mitra’ app, for advancing the party’s electoral prospects. The firm was used by the Andhra Pradesh government to get hold of access to enormous amount of official and private data of individuals, including their Aadhaar numbers, claimed the complainant.

Electronic gadgets, including central processing units (CPUs) and hard discs were seized said the Cyberabad Police Commissioner V C Sajjanar while speaking to reporters. He further said a notice to the Amazon Web Services has been issued seeking the data. Primary investigation revealed that the company got access of personal information and sensitive data of individuals related to Aadhaar, electoral roll, government schemes and voters information of various political parties. These can be misused for illegal purposes like deletion of voters from the electoral list, he added.

However, Andhra Pradesh Information Technology Minister N Lokesh said the companies were hired curate the information whose complete rights were held by the party and that the Telangana police was harassing them.

Meanwhile, TDP ministers and legislators claimed that TRS was stealing the data to help YSRC party, who along with  Prime Minister Narendra ModiTelangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao was hatching a conspiracy against Chandrababu Naidu.

“It is atrocious to steal our data and give it to our rivals…The Bihari gang led by (political strategist and JDU leader) Prashant Kishore is giving such evil advise to the YSRC,” alleged Naidu yesterday.

Speaking to reporters, TRS working president K T Rama Rao slammed the TDP chief for blaming the Telangana government. He further questioned why Naidu was afraid if he hadn’t done anything wrong. “What was done was wrong. As if, ‘ulta chor kotwal ko dante’ (the pot calling the kettle black), they (TDP) are slamming the Telangana government. Chandrababu Naidu and his government should have shame,” he said, adding that the TDP tried to defame TRS through a paid campaign on social media.

The YSRC also claimed Naidu was scared of the investigation and asked how confidential data related to the state government went into private hands. It also alleged that the data theft planned to remove names of those against the government from the electors list.

In a related development, the Telangana High Court closed a habeas corpus petition filed by the IT firm owner alleging that the four employees were missing and were under illegal detention by the police. The four men were produced by the police in the court yesterday. As it was a holiday owing to Mahashivaratri, the accused were produced at the residence of the judge.

NT Bureau