[Urbanstudy] Campaign Against Aadhaar Picks Up Momentum Across India

Vinay Baindur yanivbin at gmail.com
Fri Jun 30 11:58:58 CDT 2017


Campaign Against Aadhaar Picks Up Momentum Across India

Various organisations and people’s movements, including Right to Food
Campaign India, Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan, Right to Food Campaign
Karnataka, Nir Aadhaar Collective, PUCL, and Rethink Aadhaar organised
events in different districts towns and cities on Friday in protest against
being forced to get services through Aadhaar.

The government’s notifications making Aadhaar mandatory for essential
services, including scholarships, school lunches, disability stipends, led
to the protests by activists.

In Jaipur, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties organised a discussion
which was attended by around 100 people including students, researchers,
and activists.

Arjun Sheoran, advocate, the Punjab and Haryana High Court gave a lecture
on “Tracking and Surveillance in democratic society: the case of UID
Aadhar”.  He spoke about lack of feasibility study before implementing
Aadhaar, scope for misuse of the Aadhaar biometric data, the growing
surveillance state where Aadhaar can be used to surveil, track and silence
ordinary citizens, and the Central Monitoring System (CMS), the mass
surveillance tool being used to surveil Internet, phone, electronic data.
>From a completely voluntary program, Aadhaar is being made all pervasive,
without any need for the same, for mid-day meals, bank accounts, PAN cards,
aid to victims of Manual Scavenging/prostitution/bonded Labour, SIM cards
etc, he said.

In Karnataka, Right to Food Campaign organized simultaneous events across
14 districts. Groups of citizens protested against Aadhaar, and submitted
memorandums to the District Collectors demanding that Aadhaar not be made
mandatory for NREGA, PDS, Pension and other government schemes.

In Bangalore, the following social organizations came together to protest
against Aadhaar at Town Hall from 11am to 2pm: Right to Food Campaign,
Karnataka, Slum Jan Andolana, Karnataka, Milana, and PUCL Karnataka.

The gathering was also addressed by Sukanya, who is the petitioner in the
Karnataka HC case which made Aadhaar optional for PDS in Karnataka.

They expressed deep reservations with the mandatory usage of Aadhaar. In
the words of one of the speakers: “It is an irony that Aadhaar is being
pushed as panacea for poverty eradication, while ground reality is that
poor are being denied entitlement. The Supreme Court, which has a duty to
question impunity of the Central Government,  is instead trying to find a
rationale for its implementation!”

In Delhi students, researchers and activists organised a signature campaign
and recorded citizens’ grievances at UIDAI regional office at Pragati
Maidan. Hundreds of people standing in the queues since 5 and 6 am spoke of
the costs and harassment they face in enrolling for and updating Aadhaar or
else they are cut from existing services.

Sushil Singh, 62, who was making his third trip to UIDAI office this week,
said that he cannot apply for his pension because his name is erroneously
spelt on his aadhaar card.   Bhagwan Singh, a construction worker from
Nangoli was there a second time as his Aadhaar card did not have his birth
date but only birth year. Om Prakash, a pensioner was there because his
Aadhaar card was mysteriously cancelled without any prior notice or hearing
granted. Joginder Singh, another pensioner, who is visually impaired, too
is rejected during biometric authentication. For such serious gaps, UIDAI
has left citizens at the mercy of its call center services, one of the
activists alleged.

Protest demonstrations were held at Patna and Lucknow, according to

According to an activist, “The Day of Action confirmed that the UID project
puts an unreasonable burden on citizens. It is coercive, exclusionary, and
a careless experiment by the Government of India on citizens’ fundamental

The protesting activists made the following demands:

 1) Government should stop mandatory use of Aadhaar and withdraw
notifications making Aadhaar mandatory for any government benefits,
subsidy, or services, including forcing this on children’s welfare and
education schemes.

2) Stop commercial use of citizens’ biometrics data.

3) Allow Rajya Sabha amendment for an “Opt Out” of Aadhaar, if a citizen so
wishes, and get all stored biometrics data and authentication records

4) There must be a public consultation on the UID project.

5) The Supreme Court must urgently constitute a Constitution bench to
decide the Aadhaar case (*Puttuswamy & Ors)* pending since 2012.
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