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NRC Official Named in FIR for Unauthorised Password Possession Says It Was 'Mutual Agreement' to Not Share it Over Phone

Image for representation. (PTI)

Image for representation. (PTI)

Baruah said she finds it “strange” as it is was “mutually agreed” to share the password in person with the complainant Chandana Mahanta, the NRC Executive Director.

Guwahati: At a time when concerns have been raised over the entire database of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) going offline from the Wipro cloud service, the office of the state NRC Coordinator lodged a police complaint against a former NRC project manager for not divulging the passwords of two official email addresses.

However, Ajupi Baruah immediately emailed the password upon learning that an FIR has been filed against her alleging "unauthorised possession of the password".

NRC state coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma said the complaint against Baruah was filed under Official Secrets Act as she "did not provide the password to the document, despite written reminders".

The FIR lodged at Paltan Bazar police station says that Baruah resigned and handed over charge on November 11 last year, but did not share the password of the official email IDs cpm.nrc.assam@gmail.com and pm.spmunrc@gov.in.

Baruah said she found it “strange” as it is was “mutually agreed” to share the password in person with the complainant Chandana Mahanta, the NRC Executive Director. She said it is not protocol to share the password over phone.

"When I received a letter on February 7 asking me for the password to my Gmail account, I informed her (Chandana Mahanta) over phone that I would be away for a few days and would meet her in person on February 17 to hand over the password. She had agreed to it then," said Baruah. "I use this account for personal and, sometimes, official purpose. Earlier, we had a government account under nic.in, but it was deactivated almost two years ago. This account is personal. It does not have NRC data."

Baruah said she wasn't informed that it was an urgent issue and that she only left her post after serving a month’s notice period.

"They escalated the issue without even asking me once for the password for so long. We worked for together for four to five years," said Baruah who has worked at the office of the state NRC Coordinator since early 2014. "I have always been in touch with them."

The complaint mentioned that the two email accounts contain "very sensitive correspondences or information on NRC" and unauthorised possession of the password by Baruah is a "violation of Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923, as it is related to national security and integrity".

Sarma, however, stated that the NRC office had written to Baruah on several occasions to submit the password, but did not get a response.

Meanwhile, IT services major Wipro clarified that the disappearance of the data from its cloud service is related to a non-payment of dues and will be restored once the government makes the payment — the contract for the project expired in October 2019, but no payment was made for renewal.

Wipro worked with the Registrar General of India and the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Supreme Court-mandated NRC exercise in Assam. The government said that the data is ‘safe’ and will be available online soon.

(With inputs from Karishma Hasnat in Guwahati)

first published:February 13, 2020, 19:30 IST