Andhra too constitutes SIT to probe data theft

Amaravati: In a tit-for-tat, the Andhra Pradesh government on Thursday set up Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe data theft case against Telangana, a day after the neighbouring state constituted a SIT to investigate similar charges against it.

Principal Secretary, Home, A. R. Anuradha issued an order constituting a nine-member SIT to be headed by Additional Director General of Police and Transport Commissioner N. Bala Subramanyam.

This followed a case registered in Guntur district on a complaint by Cabinet Minister K. Kala Venkat Rao, who is also President of Andhra Pradesh unit of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). He alleged that a conspiracy was hatched between YSR Congress leaders and some senior police officials of Telangana to steal the data belonging to the TDP.

Rao also alleged that they conspired to engineer en-masse requests for deletion of names from the voters’ list.

As the investigation of the case has interstate ramifications and requires lots of technical expertise, it was decided to constitute the SIT, read the Government Order.

The development came hours after the SIT constituted by Telangana government on Wednesday held its first meeting in Hyderabad. Inspector General of Police Stephen Ravindra, who is heading the nine-member team, told reporters that the team had started its work.

He said the SIT was trying to find out how the sensitive and personal data of the citizens of Andhra Pradesh came to IT Grids, the company providing IT services to the TDP, and for what it was using this data. The official said an in-depth investigation would be conducted to identify those who provided data to the Hyderabad-based company.

“There are allegations that based on this sensitive data, voters are being deleted from voter list. We will also look into these allegations,” he said.

Police in Hyderabad had booked a case against IT Grids on March 2 on a complaint by T. Lokeswara Reddy that sensitive data including personal information was being processed illegally by the company without consent of the citizens.

The police seized electronic gadgets, hard-disks and other material from the company’s office. It is still on the lookout of company founder and CEO D. Ashok.

The case sparked a huge row between the two Telugu states. The TDP alleged that its data built over last two decades was stolen by Telangana’s ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) under a conspiracy hatched with YSR Congress Party.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said Telangana had no power to register such a case. He said earlier in the day that his government would take steps including legal recourse to protect sovereign rights of the state.