Karnataka, which will go to polls in another six months, is witnessing yet another case of data theft of voters, allegedly in 25 constituencies across Bengaluru.
While the Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government is denying all the allegations of being linked to an NGO called Chilume, the Bengaluru Police have arrested its director and the BBMP have suspended three revenue officers who were acting as the electoral officers in several assembly constituencies across the city.
BBMP Acts Against Officers Who Issued ID Cards
According to the suspension orders accessed by The Quint, the three officers who are in question are K Chandrashekhar, Suhel Ahmed and VB Bheema Shankar. All three officers were responsible as electoral officers of Mahadevapura, Shivaji Nagar and Chikkapete assembly constituencies.
In Shivaji Nagar assembly constituency, the electoral officer Suhel Ahmed was suspended for issuing ID cards to workers of NGO Chilume. The order states that Ahmed had given out fake IDs to 14 of them, suggesting that they were booth level workers.
Likewise electoral officers VB Bheema Shankar and K Chandrashekhar were investigated for violating the Representation of Peoples Act andthe Karnataka Civil Services Rules of 1957 and by issuing fake IDs to Chilume NGO workers.
The BBMP and the BJP is being accused by the opposition of illegally entrusting the controversial NGO Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Trust, to carry out door-to-door survey about electoral and awareness.
The suspension of three revenue officers comes just two days after the arrest of Krishnappa Ravikumar, founder and director of non-governmental organiastion (NGO) Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Trust.
The officials from Halasuru Gate Police Station who are investigating the case, have also arrested four others who are being questioned for their alleged involvement in co-ordinating poll related work in 28 constituencies across Bengaluru.
Requesting anonymity, a senior officer from the investigating team said,
"Ravikumar is from Nellamangala and founded the NGO Chilume in 2018. After allegations of his organisation running poll related work surfaced, he was absconding. He moved from Bengaluru, Tumakuru and Sirsi. We arrested him when he planned his meeting with his lawyer in Bengaluru's Cubbon Park."
Chilume, the NGO which is in question had approached the city municipality expressing their wish to provide voluntary service and spread awareness about electoral rights and elections.
However, the NGO has been accused of massive data theft to get information such as name, age, gender, caste, mother tongue, Aadhar Card No, Voter ID No and phone numbers of the voters.
Meanwhile, reacting to massive outrage and allegations made by the Congress, chief minister Basavaraj Bommai has directed concerned officials to probe the case and ensure that the no NGOs are hired or are issued with IDs to collect voter data.