The probe into an FIR filed in January by a Deputy Director of the UIDAI against The Tribune and its reporter has brought the spotlight towards the office of the District Magistrate in Surat, reports The Indian Express. The report which set of this chain of events had shown how, for just Rs. 500, anyone could gain access to the Aadhaar demographic details of billions of citizens across the country.
Investigations into the report by the Delhi police has led to two people working in the Aadhaar centre inside the DM's office being questioned by the Delhi Police, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) A K Singla toldIE.
The police reportedly believe that the server of this Aadhaar centre was used to access the details of citizens. The original FIR had been filed by BM Pataik of the UIDAI, which mentioned cheating, forgery, Section 66 of the IT Act, and Section 36/ 37 of the Aadhaar Act. The IE reported that police sources said the UIDAI had not shared particulars with the police, but two months ago, it was discovered that the Surat DM's credentials were used to access the data.
Curiously, Surat seems to have seen a fair amount of activity around Aadhaar-related fraud. On Wednesday, TOI reported that an illegal Aadhaar registration was busted in Varachha , a suburb of Surat. Officials raided a shop based on a tip, which was found to be an illegal Aadhaar center. At the shop, the officials found a laptop which was being used for the registrations, along with a webcam and a fingerprint reader which were being used to record biometric details.
Earlier this year, two men were arrested in an Aadhaar card tampering racket in Surat, TOI reported. The two accused were pilfering foodgrains issued to poor people by modifying the Aadhaar card data on individuals, using a rubber thumb. The duo had a pen drive which included the Aadhaar credentials of a bank officer, along with a thumb impression. By creating a rubber thumb to match his fingerprints, they were able to access the Aadhaar database.
Two fair price shop owners were also busted in Surat in February, The Hindustan Timesreported, who had used fake biometric data to divert subsidised foodgrains.
"The accused who were authorized to use E-FPS application provided by the government for issuing subsidised items to beneficiaries by matching their stored biometric details with barcoded ration card and UID (Aadhar), used illegal software and somehow accessed the data built by the government. This way they diverted the quantum in name of unsuspecting beneficiaries, who were not utilising their allotted quota," said the Crime Branch of Surat police in a press statement.