Non-governmental organisation Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Trust, which is involved in alleged voter data theft in Karnataka, was entrusted with election-related tasks in 2018, documents of Bengaluru civic body showed, reported The Indian Express.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, the civic body in Bengaluru, had entrusted the NGO with spreading awareness about the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, revision of electoral rolls and conducing Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation programmes in December, official documents showed.

Twitter account BBMP SVEEP 2019, which is defunct now, also showed that the NGO conducted awareness activities in January and February around the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike used to follow the BBMP SVEEP 2019 Twitter account, according to The Indian Express.

This year, an investigation by news websites The News Minute and Pratidhvani had shown that the NGO allegedly issued fake identification cards to its field agents of booth level officers after it received permission from the civic body to conduct a voter awareness drive to revise electoral rolls ahead of the Karnataka Assembly polls.

The NGO workers had collected personal information from voters such as their caste, mother tongue, marital status, age, gender, employment and education details, Aadhaar Card number, phone number, address, Voter ID number and email address, the news reports said. The workers also asked the voters for information about the performance of their elected representatives.

On Wednesday, the civic body had withdrawn the permission to the NGO. It neither explained the reasons for cancelling the permission nor retrieved the alleged stolen data from the not-for-profit body.

On Thursday, however, Rangappa, special commissioner (administration and elections) at the civic body denied giving permission to the NGO for collecting voters’ data, The Indian Express reported.

“The trust was allowed to spread awareness about the voter helpline and general awareness around elections,” he said. “When the complaints came that the trust was collecting voters’ data we cancelled the permission. Even in 2018, BBMP engaged the NGO to create awareness among the general public towards revision of electoral rolls and SVEEP. We have filed a police complaint in this regard.”

A case has been registered under Sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 419 (cheating by personation), 420 (cheating) and 468 (forgery) of the Indian Penal Code.