Bengaluru voter data theft: Two Chilume NGO members held, directors absconding

However, the police are yet to arrest Krishnappa Ravikumar, who is the main person behind the NGO that illegally collected precious voter data in Bengaluru this year as exposed by a TNM investigation.
Chilume agents doing voters survey in Bengaluru with BBMP orders
Chilume agents doing voters survey in Bengaluru with BBMP orders
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The Bengaluru police arrested two employees of the NGO Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Institute, the organisation involved in large-scale voter data theft in Bengaluru, following an investigation by TNM. Police officials from the Halasuru Gate police station arrested Chilume's director Renuka Prasad and HR personnel Dharmesh on the night of Friday, November 18.

The city police however are yet to arrest Krishnappa Ravikumar, one of the directors of Chilume, who is absconding in the case. He is one of the individuals who registered the trust in 2013 and is the main person behind Chilume. Police officials have also searched the offices of Chilume Trust and a private company linked to the trust located on 16th and 17th Cross Road in Malleshwaram in the city.

The developments come after the city police registered two separate cases against Chilume following The News Minute's investigation into the organisation's covert voter data collection exercise which involved sending field workers who impersonated election officials. 

One case registered in the city's Halasuru Gate police station was based on the complaint of Rangappa S, BBMP Special Commissioner (Administration), and it accused Chilume of criminal breach of trust, cheating and forgery. It also named Lokesh, a field worker deployed by Chilume, in the FIR.

The other case was registered against Chilume at the Kadugodi police station in Mahadevapura in the city based on a complaint filed by Chandrashekar, the electoral registration officer in Mahadevapura. This complaint only named Lokesh as an accused in the case.

TNM has independently spoken to many young men who were deployed by Chilume to covertly collect voter data in Bengaluru by impersonating election officials.

A joint investigation by TNM and the Kannada outlet Pratidhvani published on November 16 detailed how the voter data theft was enabled by a Government Order that allowed the NGO to ‘create awareness’ about voter rights and revision of electoral rolls.

The NGO is also linked to an election management company through Krishnappa Ravikumar. It has also emerged that a former BJP MLA Nandiesha Reddy paid Chilume Rs 18 lakh for a voter data survey.

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