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Aadhaar Scam: Panicked UIDAI files FIR against reporter who exposed it

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Aadhaar Card On Sale

The FIR against the reporter, who was trying to help the government in protecting the privacy of billions of people, is condemnable as far as the freedom of the press is concerned.  

Shimla: Panicked by the alleged security breach into the Adhaar database, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), has filed an FIR against the reporter, Rachana Khaira, who had exposed it.

The Government has reacted in a way that resembles the behaviour that a thief would display on being caught red-handed.

An FIR had been lodged with the crime branch’s cyber cell “under IPC Sections 419 (punishment for cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document), as well Section 66 of the IT Act and Section 36/37 of the Aadhaar Act,

the police confirmed

All claims of the government regarding the high-security of UIDAI database were shattered after, in a story published on January 4, 2018, edition of The Tribune, Rachana described how she was able to buy access to the Aadhaar Card database consisting of over 1 billion people through a WhatsApp group for a meagre cost of Rs.500.

As per the news report. for just Rs, 500, she was able to gain access to all data relating to the identity of billions of people who have Adhaar Numbers.

It took just Rs 500, paid through Paytm, and 10 minutes,

to obtain the access to the database, Rachana had revealed in the report.

The Tribune had reported it to the UIDAI officials,  who, according to the report, were also shocked at this security breach.

For common people, it is a matter of worry because their right to individual privacy is at stake.

For an individual, who has an Aadhaar Card, all of his details related to the number including name, photo, bank account, address, phone number, e-mail or anything linked with the Aadhaar are on sale. The identity of any individual can be easily misused to forge documents.

Which is why it is a matter of a huge worry for the government. The Government would never admit that their security measures were not sufficient to protect the database. So, the UIADI, as a defence, is linking the reporter with a criminal conspiracy.

The above-mentioned persons have unauthorisedly accessed the Aadhaar ecosystem in connivance of the criminal conspiracy, said the UIADI in its FIR.   

The report had also exposed that through the same agent, the reporter bought a software for Rs. 300 that facilitates printing of Aadhaar Cards.

 

He asked for Rs 300 through Paytm No. 8107888008 (in the name of ‘Raj’). Once paid, a person identifying himself as Sunil Kumar called from mobile number 7976243548, and installed software on this correspondent’s computer by accessing it remotely through “TeamViewer”. Once the job was done, he deleted the software drivers, even from the recycle bin,

Rachana had stated in her report.

The government has been facing criticism for compelling the populace to link their Aadhaar numbers to various other services. A debate over the fundamental “Right to Privacy” is still to be concluded.

The FIR against the reporter, who was trying to help the government in protecting the privacy of billions of people, is condemnable as far as the freedom of the press is concerned.  

The Editors Guild of India also came down heavily on the FIR in a media statement issued that said,

Clearly meant to browbeat a journalist whose investigation on the matter was of great public interest. It is unfair, unjustified and a direct attack on the freedom of the press,

 

The statement further added,

Instead of penalising the reporter, UIDAI should have ordered a thorough internal investigation into the alleged breach and made its findings public. 

Earlier, the UIDAI had responded in a similar way against the CNN-News 18 for showing how it was possible to obtain two separate Aadhaar enrollment numbers with the same set of biometrics.

Skoch Group Chairman Sameer Kochhar was also booked for demonstrating why the biometric identification system was vulnerable to replay attacks. UIDAI had hushed-up the matter calling it “rumour”.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 7 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture world around him in his DSLR lens.

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“Are IG, SP, DSP in jail to save a woodcutter?”: Unconvinced father of Gudiya asks CBI

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CBI Probe in Kotkhai case

If the police officials did not try to shield anyone, then they must have done it either for medals or under an extreme political pressure ahead of assembly elections.

Shimla: The findings of the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Gudiya case, which had sparked massive protests in Shimla, did not sound convincing to the parents of the victim and a section of the locals.

The father told media that though he has full faith in the CBI, he is not convinced that a 4-feet man empowered a 16-year-old alone and raped her in the forest.

In addition, the CBI did not explain where did the accused keep her for one and a half day. As per the CBI, the accused committed the crime on the evening of July 4, but her body was found on the morning of July 6, the father added.

They had launched an extensive search in the forests on July 5, however, did not come across the body of the victim, the father told media.

For the father, more bewildering is the fact that three high-rank officials are in jail with six others just to save a woodcutter.

It is a point that is creating confusion among the locals, who have followed the series of events in the case. The CBI never spoke of the motive of the arrested police officials.

If the CBI has conducted a fair probe, then what was the motive of the police officials behind framing innocent men and allegedly kill one of them in custody in order to extract a false confession, he asked.

If the police officials did not try to shield anyone, then they must have done it either for medals or under an extreme political pressure ahead of assembly elections which were just a couple of months away, the locals are speculating.  

However, the Congress party, which was in power when the incident took place, is convinced with the probe and have appreciated the agency for cracking the case.  The party had on April 25 released a media statement regarding the same. 

Further, the father, in his statements to the media, asked why the clothes of the victim were not damaged if the crime was committed in the forest by over-powering her. Her clothes, the father said, were placed by her body like it was done deliberately and carefully.  

He also said that the CBI did not inform them regarding the status of the case even after claiming to have solved the case.

The parents said they would knock at the doors of the court if the CBI fails to complete the missing parts of the entire episode and answer their questions.

At the same time, a section of the people believes that the CBI might have actually caught the actual accused. However, the gaps in the CBI theory are bothering most of the people.

The CBI, on the other hand, said the investigation would continue and, meanwhile, a charge-sheet would be filed against the accused within the stipulated period of 90 days.

However, at the same time, the agency had yesterday told the court that it is filing its last status report in the case.

The CBI needs to fill the gaps in its story to convince the parents and the locals.

Hopefully, with the filing of the charge-sheet, more facts would emerge to verify the CBI probe.

Because, in the absence of it, the people have already begun to term the arrested accused a scapegoat that the agency used to save itself and its Chief from embarrassment.

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Kotkhai Gudiya case solved, says CBI claiming it was not a gang rape

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Kotkhai gudiya case solved says cbi

Shimla: In yet another mind-boggling development in the Gudiya case, the Central Bureau of Investigation today, while submitting its status report in the Himachal Pradesh High Court, reportedly claimed that it has cracked the case.

The CBI told the court that it was the last status report in the case and that it would file a charge-sheet against the accused within 90 days.

The news has begun to appear in national media where it is being claimed that the agency has finally cracked the blind case of rape and murder.

The PTI reported that the CBI has changed the theory given by the local police and claimed that it was not a case of gangrape. As per CBI, the lone accused, who was identified as Anil Kumar, has been arrested on April 13 based on the DNA reports that matched with the sample taken from victim’s body. The accused was said to be a lumberjack.

The report further said the CBI had found that the accused had been hiding all this time and that he also has a criminal background.

The agency used new DNA percentage matches and lineage matches to crack the case. The agency further claimed that it was after getting multiple scientific pieces of evidence that the accused was identified and arrested.

The investigation was done quietly and away from public scrutiny to ensure culprits don’t escape. Accused was arrested on 13 April and produced before designated Court today. He has been remanded to judicial custody till 7 May,

Abhishek Dayal, CBI Chief Info Officer, told ANI.

However, the court was not satisfied with the status report and asked the agency to file an affidavit on the behalf of its Director.

The next hearing will be conducted on May 8. The court said it would decide whether the CBI Chief to be summoned or not. The CBI defended its Director saying he had been carefully monitoring all the status reports filed in the court.

The CBI counsel tried to convince the court that there was no need to direct the Director to be personally present in the court.

The people of Himachal are bewildered as nine police officials including then Inspector General Zahur H Zaidi, SP of Shimla, DW Negi, and DSP of Theog, Manoj Joshi, were put behind bars by the agency on August 29, 2017.

The CBI charge-sheet filed against the nine police officials alleged the accused of hatching a conspiracy, framing wrong people, and even hacking one of them to death in police custody.

The people believed that some influential and wealthy people influenced the police probe to shield the real culprits. There have been rioting like the situation in Kotkhai region and entire Himachal was echoing with protesting voices. However, now a big question that arises here is that why did local police take such a risk? How can a simple lumberjack influence police SIT and fool the CBI for 10 months?

The reactions of the victim’s parents and locals towards the CBI probe are still awaited. Moreover, in coming days, the agency may come out with a public statement to explain the entire episode and clear the doubts of the people regarding the investigation.

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Road in Mashobra Ward of SMC in tatters for last 10 years

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Road-in-Shimla-MC-Ward-21

Shimla: While the new Government of Himachal Pradesh claims that it has achieved all the targets it had set for the first 100 days, the ground reality doesn’t agree with it entirely.

As per the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, Rs. 100 crores were sanctioned for repair and maintenance of roads, however, even the urban Shimla did not witness these repairs.

Some residents of Mashobra – Lower Dhalli Ward (Number 21) of the Shimla Municipal Corporation wrote to Himachal Watcher regarding the pathetic condition of the road in their locality algonwith pictures of the Mashobra market.  

The road has not been repaired from last 10 years. The problem of water-logging pertains from past 5 years, but the civic body did not attend to it, 

said one of the residents.

Bhartiya Janata Party’s Shalinder Chauhan has been elected for the second time as councillor of the Ward. However, he made only promises to solve this problem, which were never fulfilled,

the resident further added.

Mashobra market

This road leads to famous tourist destinations like Talai, Carignano Nature Park along with government offices like the Regional Horticultural Research Station, Mashobra, and HP Panchayati Raj Training Institute.

Despite the frequent movement of government officials in this Ward, the road did not attract the attention of any single of them.

Several Ministers cross this road and, a few days back, the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) had organized a national level annual meeting near Talai, but the problem remains invisible to everyone except the locals,

a local youth told HW.

The pedestrians face daily trouble due to the large potholes, which turn into pools of water when it rains. Passing vehicles splash accumulated water on pedestrians. During sunny days, clouds of dust troubles the residents as well as shopkeepers and dhabs located in the market, the residents complained.   

The locals are forced to live in dust and mud for last 10 years, but the problems of the locals did not find a place in media, they further complained.

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