Chilume The Institute of Education, Culture and Rural Development had been enlisted by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike to update the electoral rolls in the area of the largest municipal corporations, an exercise he allegedly misused to selectively purge the names of voters, agricultural data and sell it to interested parties.
“Chilume is not listed in the NGO archive managed by the Centre,” said regional commissioner Amlan Aditya Biswas, who is investigating the suspected data theft. “It is neither a trust nor a company. It was registered in 2018 as a private company under the Companies Act. There is a specific government order stating that NGOs can be tied for electoral purposes, but our investigation has revealed that Chilume is not.”
Several representatives of Chilume, including its director Krishnappa Ravikumar, and some civic officials linked to the alleged data theft were arrested last month. Two bureaucrats: the Deputy Urban Commissioner of Bangalore K Srinivas and Special Commissioner Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike S Rangappa — I’m suspended.
BBMP initially commissioned Chilume to review the electoral rolls in 2017 after officially identifying it as an NGO. The investigation findings so far suggest that the company did not perform a background check before holding the firm accountable. “Chilume is not even registered under Section 8 of the Companies Act, which would have given it the status of a non-profit organization,” said an official.
All payments by the civic authorities were in the name of the “Chilume Trust”. Regional Commissioner Biswas said the list of recognized NGOs includes a lone organization named Chilume Trust which was registered in 2006 and established in Kerala. The agency under investigation is registered as Chilume Enterprises Pvt Ltd.
N Manjunatha Prasad, Chief Secretary of CM Basavaraj Bommai, was the BBMP commissioner when Chilume got his first scroll proofreading job. He said the organization may have forged documents to look like an NGO as it tried to get involved in the exercise. “If they are found to have done that, they will be punished,” he said.
Three special officials are currently overseeing an EC-mandated audit of all electoral roll updates in Chickpet, Shivajinagar and Mahadevapura constituencies from 1 January. The investigation was launched after Congress filed a complaint with the European Commission last month alleging that 27 lakh of names were deleted and 11 lakh added to the electoral rolls in the three constituencies. He said employees of a private company collected data, masquerading as government officials.