Thiruvananthapuram: A severe data breach with immense security ramifications may likely happen if crucial records of the Kerala Police come in the hands of a non-governmental agency. Even as the chief of the Kerala unit of the Congress termed it "a serious breach of national security", the state police has mysteriously dumped an app it had developed to ease the functions of the cops as is aimed by the controversial digitisation bid.
Crucial and confidential data of the Kerala Police, including criminal case details, are being handed over to a private agency as part of the digitisation of the several activities of cops. With this, the vital data base with details on as many as 75 lakh criminal cases and accused can be accessed by the Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society Limited in Kozhikode.
The private agency, which has developed an app for the services, would get the crime data that even the local police officers do not have access to.
DGP Loknath Behera issued an order to give Uralungal access to the Crime And Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS) on October 29 so that it can make ready its new mobile application to carry out several of the important police tasks such as passport verification.
Uralungal needs the crime data for blockchain-based passport verification, police clearance certificate, and issuing no-objection certificate. Thus, the firm should be given access to the vital network, said the DGP's order. Instruction was also given to take immediate follow-up action to nodal officer, battalion DIG.
Details of the criminal cases in the last 15 years, FIR copies, complaints, history of the accused, case diary and mehsar are all part of this network. On an average, over six lakh cases are filed in Kerala in a year.
Complaints given at the station in a day, cases filed, and charge-sheets submitted in court are all uploaded in real-time. Only officers of the district special branch, and crime records bureau can currently examine this.
(Blockchain technology allows transparent access to database by making use of public key encryption and keeping digital record of transactions.)
However, a section of the officers and oppositions leaders have objected the move to give the deal to Uralungal without even calling for a tender.
They also alleged that handing over the police crime data to a private agency can lead to security issues.
The top brass of the police had earlier said blockchain technology would be used for tasks such as passport verification.
Kochi Additional Commissioner K P Philip had verified and approved the app developed by the Uralungal Society. The passport verification of around 1,000 people in Ernakulam district was also done using the app.
Uralungal Society has sought Rs 35 lakh for the app. The DGP instructed the Kochi Police Commissioner to immediately give Rs 20 lakh.
The money would be taken from the incentive given by the Union External Affairs Ministry for speedy passport examination.
Uralungal has written to the DGP, seeking to expand the project across the state. A four-member council led by the coastal security ADGP has been constituted to study and submit a report within 15 days.
Own app dumped?
The move to use the services of a private firm's app is made even while disregarding a mobile application developed by the Kerala Police that had even won the approval of the External Affairs Ministry.
The technical experts of the Kerala Police had developed E-VIP version 1.0 in 2017 and it was implemented in the Thrissur rural police range. After it was found to be a success, the project was expanded to 19 police districts. Uralungal is giving a revised version of this app.
Mullappally flays Pinarayi, Behera
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Mullappally Ramachandran has slammed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and DGP Loknath Behera for the decision to hand over the responsibility of the software on police data to Uralungal. This was a serious breach of national security, he alleged.
Mullappally claimed that vital secrets of Kerala Police would now be accessible not only to the CPM but also to the anti-national forces.
"Even if the CM does not know the importance of the move, the DGP, who has worked with the Home Ministry, is aware of its seriousness. Both the DGP and the CM have stooped to the levels of aiding the enemy. This is a dangerous move. Both of them would have to make their stance clear on the issue," he added.
The senior Congress leader also sought to know whether the CM’s relatives had intervened in this deal.
"The house of CM's wife is near to the Uralungal Society. The CM and the DGP are making the Kerala Police a feeder organisation of the CPM," he said, adding that he would reveal some of the startling aspects about the Home Department later on.
Mullappally also said that officers in the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) were steeped in corruption. And that the CAG should probe the records of the KIIFB. The KPCC chief also said that his party would kick-start agitations over the police software and KIIFB issues.
Mullappally also said that he had a personal opinion about the recent Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya case but said that he could not make it public.