Assam NRC: A saga of missing data, technical glitches, non-renewal of contract and state’s accountability

After the sudden disappearance of the data of Assam’s NRC from the official website created a panic like situation, NRC State Coordinator said, the data is safe, there is nothing to worry

Photo Courtesy: social media 
Photo Courtesy: social media

NH Web Desk

After the data of Assam’s National Register of Citizen (NRC) showing details of included and excluded persons went missing from the official website and created a panic like situation, the NRC State Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma said, the data is safe, there is nothing to worry, a report in The Indian Express stated.

‘Just a technical glitch’, Sarma was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

The Union Home Ministry also clarified that data of the final list of the National Register of Citizens has been offline for some time.

"The NRC data is safe. Some technical issues are in visibility on the cloud. These are being resolved soon," a Home Ministry spokesperson said.

The Times of India quoted an official source at the NRC as saying, “The data were stored in cloud storage. But, the service period of the cloud storage provided by WIPRO expired and the subscription renewal was not done as there was no coordinator after the transfer of the former coordinator Prateek Hajela. After the new coordinator has assumed charge, the renewal process is underway and the data should be online in a few days.”

But this raises another significant question of whether the state has capacity enough to store data safely. The Indian Express quoted Apar Gupta, lawyer and Executive Director of the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) as saying, “It puts a big question mark on state capacity. This points towards the acute lack of state capacity to actually make sure that data is being reliably, safely and securely stored, and also made available in real-time fashion for delivery of e-governance services.”

Apar Gupta further added that this incident reveals how individual contracts are negotiated and how they are not able to ensure that the technical systems remain online during the renewal process. “ this should have been kept in mind especially for this service taking into account the sensitivity underlying this data and tremendous public anxiety its non-availability would cause,” he said.

But according to Wipro, it had continued to provide services long after the contract had expired. The contract expired in October 2019 and Wipro continued its services till January-end, 2020, the Wipro told The Indian Express.

The final NRC list excluded 19,06,657 names out of 3,30,27,661 applicants.

Debabrata Saika, Assam leader of the opposition sent a letter to Registrar General and Census Commissioner about the sudden vanish of online data from the official website.

“The data have vanished especially when the appeals process has not even started due to the go-slow attitude adopted by the NRC Authority. There is, therefore, ample scope to suspect that the disappearance of online data is a mala fide act and is prima facie a deliberate violation of the directive issued by the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” Saikia wrote in his letter to the registrar general.

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Published: 12 Feb 2020, 2:24 PM