New Delhi, Jan 7: The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has registered an FIR against ‘The Tribune’ newspaper and its journalist Rachna Khaira over her report that claimed that Aadhaar numbers were being sold by anonymous sellers over WhatsApp for a fee. The FIR has also named Anil Kumar, Sunil Kumar, and Raj, three people who were contacted for the story by the reporter. Also Read - India’s COVID Vaccine Drive to go Contactless With Aadhaar-Based Face Recognition: Here’s What it Means

According to a report of The Indian Express, a deputy director of UIDAI has filed an FIR under Indian Penal Code Sections 419 (punishment for cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) against the accused. Speaking to the daily Alok Kumar, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) confirmed that an FIR had been registered. Also Read - Trying to Link PAN-Aadhaar Card? Users Complain Income Tax Website Down, Demand Extension of Date

Published on January 3, 2018, The Tribune report which was widely shared on social media, claimed that it took just Rs 500 and 10 minutes for the newspaper to get access through an ‘agent’ to every detail of any individual submitted to the UIDAI including name, address, postal code (PIN), photo, phone number and email. The newspaper had said it paid another Rs 300, for which the agent provided a software to facilitate the printing of the Aadhaar card after entering the Aadhaar number of any individual. Also Read - PAN Card Will Become Inoperative If Not Linked With Aadhaar Before April 1: Here’s How To Do It

Denying all the allegations, the UIDAI issued a statement saying,”The Aadhaar data including biometric information is fully safe and secure. UIDAI assures that there has not been any Aadhaar data breach.”

“It has given search facility for the purpose of grievance redressal to designated personnel and state government officials to help residents. The reported case appears to be instance of misuse of the grievance redressal search facility. As UIDAI maintains complete log and traceability of the facility, the legal action including lodging of FIR against the persons involved in the instant case is being done,” the statement further read.

As soon the FIR was registered, Twitterati lambasted UIDAI and condemn the act. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala hit out at Modi government and stated,”Shoot the ‘messenger’, Ignore the ‘message’! This typifies the ‘culture’ & ‘character’ of BJP Govt. FIR against the Tribune Reporter is ‘arrogance of power’ at its worst. Every Indian must condemn this mindless act of Modi Govt & UIDAI.”

Check out some of the Twitter reactions here:

This has come two months after UIDAI insisted that “Aadhaar data is fully safe and secure and there has been no data leak or breach at UIDAI.”