Digitisation of J&K archives spills state secrets, govt shuts down portal

Digitisation of J&K archives spills state secrets, govt shuts down portal
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Confidential matters related to ‘defence and political affairs’ leaked; website to stay shut for 2-3 months

Srinagar: Inaugurated with much fanfare on March 1 this year, the web portal containing digitised records of J&K State Archives has been shut down. Some “classified documents” were leaked on the online platform in the absence of proper classification, Kashmir Reader has learnt. According to official sources, the Directorate of Archives, Archaeology and Museums has shut down theweb portal www.archives.jk.gov.in temporarily soon after some confidential and sensitive documents related to defence and political affairs were leaked on the website “unintentionally”.

“Most of the digitised documents were uploaded randomly without categorising them as per their significance and confidentiality. So, the department higher-ups convened an emergency meeting and decided to put it down till there was a proper listing of the records,” an official told Kashmir Reader, wishing anonymity. He said the department was in possession of many secret and sensitive documents which were not supposed to be uploaded on the public platform. “Some of them got leaked on the web portal which is meant for open records only. So, we immediately removed the documents and put the portal offline for further scrutiny,” the official said. The web portal was inaugurated by former Commissioner Secretary Culture, Saleem Shishgar, on March 1. As per the official handout, it was aimed at providing easy access to historical data of Jammu and Kashmir from 1724 to 1985 to researchers and scholars across the globe. However, the official “goof-up” has put a question mark on the process of digitisation.

Deputy Director Archives Tsering Tashi admitted that the mistake had delayed the process. “Some confidential documents related to border and security issues were uploaded unintentionally on the web portal as no classification was done before,” he said. However, the department spotted the mistake immediately and decided to categorise the files before making them public, he said. Tashi, who is the Nodal Officer of the Digitisation Project, said the department had already digitised huge archival material, containing millions of files, during which this mistake occurred. “The process is time consuming and takes a lot of resources. We had uploaded the files randomly as soon as they were digitised. Now we have asked the concerned contractor to classify the files as per the department, region, and confidentiality. It will help us give access accordingly,” he said. The Nodal Officer said the process of classification will take more than two months to complete.

“The website will run after two to three months. We will be able to make available the digitised record only after the classification of the files,” Tashi said. According to him, the confidential documents will be made available only after proper scrutiny of applications by the department higher-ups. “We will make the index of all the files available so that researchers and scholars can approach us to get the access,” he said. The government started the digitisation of the historical, administrative and cultural records in 2012 keep 70 lakh pages of archival records available online for the ready reference of students and scholars. The task was granted to ‘Kinsely Brothers’ with an aim to preserve rare and ancient archival records. The project includes archives, rare books and manuscripts, and automation and networking of four public libraries in Jammu and Kashmir.