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  • Aadhaar data breach FIR: Pb Cong govt extends support to

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21:40 HRS IST

protest by Tribune staff

Chandigarh, Jan 9 (PTI)
Punjab's Amarinder Singh government today extended its support to the protest by 'The Tribune' employees against filing of an FIR against the newspaper's journalist over a report on alleged breach of Aadhaar data.

The Tribune employees union today staged a demonstration demanding revocation of the FIR, during which Cabinet minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar and Media Advisor to the chief minister Raveen Thukral joined the protesters, said an official release here.

Bajwa lashed out at the alleged "witch hunt" unleashed by the central government against 'The Tribune' reporter over her Aadhaar data breach report.

Filing of FIR against 'The Tribune' reporter amounted to "sheer victimisation" and could not be condoned at any cost, he said, adding such acts were in violation of the democratic ethos and principles.

Jakhar also lashed out at the Centre for the registration of the FIR against the scribe.

Pointing out that the BJP had opposed Aadhaar when they were in the Opposition in the Centre, Jakhar said the Centre should plug the flaws in the Aadhaar system and ensure that privacy was safeguarded.

The entire leakage episode should be investigated, he demanded.

Jakhar accused the BJP-led government at the Centre of suppressing the voice of the media, and the people and said that this did not behove well of a democratically-elected government.

"How can a journalist be prosecuted for doing her work, without malice," Bajwa and Jakhar asked, adding that the way the central government was stifling the voice of democratic institutions did not augur well for the country.

All democratic forces should come together to fight this trend, which, if unchecked, would destroy the very fabric which holds the nation together, they said.

Thukral conveyed Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's personal support to the agitating Tribune employees during a visit to their protest site here today.

Though the chief minister could not meet them personally as he was indisposed, he had assured of his government's full backing to the media in the interest of "press freedom", Thukral told the protestors.

"The chief minister was in favour of the central government plugging the Aadhaar leaks instead of putting the plug on the system which had exposed the loopholes," said Thukral, adding the Congress government in Punjab would do its best to fully protect the freedom of the fourth pillar of democracy.

Thukral said he was personally shocked by the "act of persecution" and urged the Centre to withdraw the FIR and order a thorough investigation into the alleged leakage of Aadhar data.

The Delhi Police has registered an "open-ended" First Information Report (FIR) on a complaint from Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) over the report on the alleged data breach of more than one billion Aadhaar numbers.

The UIDAI's complaint sparked condemnation from the Confederation of Newspaper and News Agency Employees' Organisations which demanded its withdrawal. Calling it an attack on the free press, the Confederation had said the UIDAI should highlight errors in the report, if any, instead of taking penal action.

Though the complaint named four persons, including the Chandigarh-based daily The Tribune's reporter who had filed the story on alleged breach in Aadhaar database, Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said the FIR was against "unknown" entities.

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