Probe ordered into voter data theft after apprehension of impersonation: Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer

News Network
November 20, 2022

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Bengaluru, Nov 20: In the midst of the Congress’s allegations of voter data theft, Chief Electoral Officer of Karnataka Manoj Kumar Meena said the inquiry was ordered following the apprehension of impersonation by an NGO during the ‘voter awareness drive’.

“The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) commissioner had some information. We have the apprehension that there is impersonation and it has to be inquired. Ultimately, after the police investigation and our Divisional Commissioner inquiry, we will come to know what is there in it,” Meena told PTI.

The Congress in Karnataka has alleged that the Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Institute (‘Chilume Trust’) hired many private people who were given fake identity cards impersonating Booth Level Officers (BLOs) of BBMP.

The opposition party alleged that the private trust, which was assigned by the Bengaluru civic agency to spread awareness among voters, collected details of the voters such as name, mother tongue, gender, religion, caste, voter ID number, and the Aadhaar number.

Meena declined to comment on the complaint by Congress with the State Election Commission regarding voter data theft. He said the reason behind the suspected impersonation will come out only after the probe.

“Let’s wait for the inquiry. If I comment on anything, it will compromise the inquiry. We will not say about the merit of the complaint. The regional commissioner is entrusted with the inquiry. Let the truth come out. Then we will take action as per the recommendation,” the CEO said.

The Congress alleged that the Chilume Trust also fed the information collected from voters into its private app. To a question whether his office would revisit the deletion of 6.73 lakh names from the electoral roll in Bengaluru following the "revelation", he said addition and deletion are a regular process and there was no need to revisit it again.

According to Meena, in the city, 6.73 lakh names were deleted and about three lakh new names added to the electoral roll. He added that the Election Commission of India carried out a major exercise to find out "photo-similar" entries in the electoral roll using software in the country. Using the software, 16 lakh entries were deleted from the electoral roll from across Karnataka including 6.73 lakh from Bengaluru after the verification by the BLOs.

According to him, about one crore such entries were deleted including around 15 lakh in Tamil Nadu and 14 lakh in Maharashtra. On the Congress' charge that the directors of the Chilume trust, which is in the middle of the controversy, have not been named in the FIR, Meena said the NGO has been mentioned in it, which itself means that those heading the organisations have been named.

The BBMP had given permission to the Chilume Trust to conduct 'Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP), a voter awareness drive by the Election Commission, in Karnataka, where Assembly elections are due next year.

BBMP said last week that the Trust violated the conditions of the permission and asked the public not to share any voter details with representatives of the NGO. 

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News Network
November 21,2022

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Mangaluru, Nov 21: The accused in the autorickshaw blast in coastal Karnataka's Mangaluru was "inspired by ISIS terror group" and used dark web to contact his handlers, the police said today, claiming a big breakthrough. 

The police said Mohammed Shariq worked under multiple handlers, one of them from Al Hind, a terror outfit influenced by ISIS.

A resident of Shivamogga district, Shareeq was carrying the improvised explosive device (IED) in a pressure cooker in an autorickshaw on Saturday when it exploded, leaving him with severe burn injuries. He is currently undergoing treatment in a city hospital.

"...Our priority is to see that he survives, we have to take him to a stage where we can question him," ADGP Alok Kumar said.

The police had termed the blast "an act of terror with intention to cause serious damage."

The accused made bombs at home and even conducted a "trial blast" on the banks of a river, the police officer added.

"Shariq's immediate handler was Arafat Ali, an accused in two cases. He was in touch with Mussavir Hussain who is an accused in Al-Hind module case. Abdul Matin Taha was one of the main handler of Shariq. Another 2-3 handlers also worked with Shariq but they are yet to be identified," Mr Kumar said.

So far, the police have conducted searches at five locations across Karnataka, including his home in Mysuru where materials used to make bombs were seized, he said.

"Shariq was driven by ISIS ideology and made bomb at his home. On September 19, Shariq along with two other accomplices carried out a trial blast in a forest on the banks of a river in Shivamogga," the police officer said.

The police arrested two his accomplices the next day but Shariq managed to escape and took a house on rent with stolen Aadhaar card in Mysuru and continued to make bomb, the police added.

"We have formed five different teams and they're working on it. Four locations in Thirthahalli town of Shivamogga district and one place in Mangaluru city were searched this morning. Yesterday two places were searched. So, we have searched seven places and seized some electronic devices," the senior police officer said.

A man has been detained in Coimbatore for his alleged links with Shariq. The man, Tamil Nadu police sources said, stayed with Shariq at a dormitory and also gave him his Aadhaar card to procure a sim card.

"We have probed him and verified the circumstances under which he stayed with him. He appears to be innocent. We have shared the information with Mangaluru Police," an investigating officer said.

The Tamil Nadu police has also launched investigations after it emerged that Shariq visited several places in the state days before the blast. From Tamil Nadu, Shariq went to Kerala, where he allegedly received a consignment via Amazon, it is learnt. 

Special teams have been formed to investigate if he had met or had links with Jameesha Mubin, the prime accused in the recent car blast case in Coimbatore. The police have invoked sections of the stringent anti-terror law UAPA in the Coimbatore car blast after 75 kg of explosive raw materials were seized from the residence of Jameza Mubin who died in the blast.

Though the police have confirmed that Shareeq and Jameza Mubin were ISIS sympathisers, they have not found any link between the two.

Shariq is reported to have suffered 45 per cent burn injuries in the blast in the autorickshaw. Though he is out of danger, the police say he is not well enough to give a statement.

The police said he was carrying a low-intensity Improvised Explosive device or IED. A burnt pressure cooker fitted with batteries was found inside the vehicle.
 

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News Network
November 14,2022

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted heavy rain till November 17 in more than 20 districts of Karnataka, including Bengaluru.

According to IMD, Bengaluru city, Bengaluru Rural, Chikkaballapur, coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada, Udupi, northern regions of Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri, Koppal, Raichur, Malnad (hilly) regions of Hassan, Chikkamagalur, Shivamogga, southern districts of Kodagu, Mysuru, Mandya, Kolar, Ramnagar and Tumakuru are going to receive incessant rainfall.

Bengaluru is expected to have a cloudy atmosphere throughout the period with drizzles along with misty mornings.

The predicted minimum temperature is 10 degree Celsius and maximum temperature is 26 degrees. The heavy rainfall in Tamil Nadu is also going to have bearing on Bengaluru, which is located close to its borders.

Preventive measures are being put in place to tackle the situation and to prevent any loss of life. 

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News Network
November 23,2022

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Mangaluru, Nov 23: The decision on handing over Mangaluru autorickshaw blast case to the National Investigation Agency will be taken within two days, according to Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra.

Speaking to media persons after chairing a review meeting in Mangaluru, the Minister said that the NIA and other central agencies have been working with the Karnataka police in connection with the Mangaluru blast from day one.

On the demand for setting up an NIA office in Mangaluru, the Minister said it has been brought to the notice of the central government and the centre is positive on it.

DGP Praveen Sood said that any case that is registered under UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act) Act is brought to the notice of the NIA and details are shared to them. “The Karnataka police sent all the information to the NIA on Tuesday through the Home Ministry. The case will be handed over to the NIA at an appropriate time.”

Earlier the minister visited the site where a blast occurred in a moving auto rickshaw at Nagori in Mangaluru and later visited the private hospital where accused Mohammed Shariq and auto driver Purushotham are undergoing treatment. 

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