BENGALURU: Citizens from various parts of Bengaluru and other districts of Karnatakabraved the heat on Friday to register their protest against Aadhaar, claiming their access to welfare schemes like pension and ration had been restricted ever since the 12-digit number was made mandatory for various services.
Town Hall, the protest venue, saw around 100 people displaying placards and banners calling fellow citizens to ‘break Aadhaar chains’. The demonstration-cum-discussion was organized by several NGOs working for the welfare of disadvantaged citizens who are unable to avail of several Aadhaar-linked schemes and academic scholarships. It was a platform for citizens to discuss the exclusive nature of Aadhaar, ahead of the Supreme Court hearing on its validity beginning January 17.

“The Karnataka cabinet on January 9 approved a central legislation that allows government departments to make Aadhaar a must for citizens to avail of subsidies,” a statement from the NGOs said.

Kshitij Urs, head of Action Aid Karnataka, said 300 affidavits had been filed from across Karnataka and more than 1,000 signed petitions had been submitted to SC in the Right to Privacy case. “Aadhaar is making people beg for the bare minimum (subsidies) to survive. People are realizing its disadvantages and are starting to speak up,” he said.

A group of 20 Dalit families in Chintamani, Chikkaballapura, recently took to the streets to demand ration, which they claimed was being unfairly denied to them. “Of the 45 families, nearly 20 of us didn’t get ration for over a year. Our pleas fell on deaf ears so on January 8 and 9, we sat in front of the ration shops till we got the foodgrains. We collected greens from the forests and cooked and ate them on the road to prove our desperation. Though senior officials came to meet us, we didn’t budge. Finally, all 20 families received between 350 and 550kgs of rice. We were also told that our ‘cancelled’ cards would be reactivated,” said Nagesh, member of one of the aggrieved families.

Vinay Sreenivasa from Alternative Law Forum (ALF) said the turnout proved that problems with Aadhaar were not just the domain of the “wine and cheese social media elite”. “The issues permeate the grassroots level too. Why introduce a virtual id when people barely understand Aadhaar? Many are not even aware that it not a card but a number. The Act itself is interpretative, with issues like Aadhaar linkage being grey areas. Consent for linking is not being considered by many companies. Issues will crop up when you link everything to one form of identification. What happens when that fails,” he questioned.