How Aadhaar is wreaking havoc on the poor and vulnerable

While the Haryana govt has ordered an inquiry into the death of a woman who was allegedly refused treatment at a private hospital, several vulnerable people have suffered due to Aadhaar of late


Ashutosh Sharma

While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA government is linking an increasing number of benefits and government services to the 12-digit biometric-based Aadhaar number, the push, aimed at curbing identity fraud, is also adding to the woes of the poor and vulnerable.

A Kargil martyr’s wife died at a private hospital in Sonipat Haryana on Friday after being denied treatment for not having her Aadhaar on her, an allegation the hospital authorities have refuted.

The authorities maintained that the Aadhaar card was mandatory only for documentation process and not for treatment.

"I brought my mother in a serious condition to the hospital. They asked me to get the Aadhaar card, but I didn't have it then, so I showed them a copy in my phone. I said that I will get Aadhaar in an hour or so, and they could begin operating on my mother in the mean time. The hospital refused to do so," the son of the deceased woman, Pawan Kumar, was quoted as saying by ANI. He alleged that the hospital's uncompromising stance on admission was to be blamed for his mother's untimely demise.

The incident has evoked sharp reactions from the family members of the Kargil martyrs and social media users.

“There won't be any word on this apathy, neither from Modi nor from the media anchors and TV news channels who keep on distributing the certificates of nationalism and teach us how to respect the army. Anyway, this is another proof of how Aadhaar is baseless. Now no one will say ‘soldiers are dying at the borders’,” wrote Syed Hassan Kazim on Facebook.

In a separate incident, a pensioner in Deoghar district of Jharkhand lost his life after being denied monthly pension as his biometric impression did not match to that of his Aadhaar card.

Earlier this month, a NBT reported that as many as 53,000 persons, including the disabled, elderly citizens and widows, had been denied pension in Uttarakhand only for the past one year due to Aadhaar-related reasons.

In July, three brothers died in a span of 15 days in Belehittala near Gokarna in Karnataka. The local Public Distribution System (PDS) shop had reportedly refused to give them grain for not linking their ration card to Aadhaar.

All of them, aged 52, 46 and 55, died in quick succession, on July 2, July 8, and July 13 respectively. The sons of 85-year-old Nagamma Mukri, a member of Gokarna gram panchayat, Kumta taluk of Uttara Kannada district, died reportedly of starvation. An investigation by human rights group People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) concluded that they did not receive ration they were entitled to in the months leading to their successive deaths in July.

On September 28, an 11-year-old girl in Jharkhand’s Simdega district allegedly died crying for food after her family was denied ration as their ration as the Aadhaar cards were not linked.

In November this year, Shakina Ashfaq, 50, was skin and bones when she died at her home in Uttar Pradesh's Bareilly. Claiming that she had not eaten for five days, Shakina, who was paralysed, allegedly could not be present at the ration shop for her fingerprint authentication for Aadhaar to avail subsidised ration under the PDS.

Earlier this month, a leprosy patient in Bengaluru, Sajida Begum, 65, —who lost her pension as she was unable to provide biometric data—was given a new identity card to restore her welfare payment but only after her story was reported by the media, leading to widespread social media outrage.

Sajida, who is blind and has lost her fingers, was unable to provide fingerprints and a retina scan to obtain her Aadhaar card.

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