The report in Mumbai Mirror on 1 July titled Did Police stop the Aadhaar hearing? had many wrong
1. The venue was wrongly stated as corporate office; it was the Peasants and Workers Party office
2. Ramu Ramanathan was misquoted as saying, Permission is needed for the event, when he had said “no permission” is needed
The question mark in the title is irrelevant. Having said that, the fact is had the police not stopped the event, why were they present at the venue of the re-scheduled meeting at the Peasants and Workers Party office wherein uniformed cops and plain clothesmen from CID were seen in attendance. (picture attached).
So, what transpired?
On Saturday, 30 June, a #BreakAadhaarChains event was held at the Peasants and Workers Party Office in Mahim’s Fisherman Colony. Attended by about 100 people, the event demonstrated the people’s exasperation and angst over the shoddy implementation of the Aadhaar scheme. As pointed by ????, the mandatory linking of Aadhaar to multiple services was the most visible complaint. The panelists, representing informed, erudite voices – on law and legality if not Aadhaar per se – also voiced opinions about how Aadhaar had curtailed citizens’ fundamental liberties, resulted in rampant intrusions upon their privacy, and altered their relationship with the state and the government agency.
The testimonies were presented from across the Maharashtra State Shailesh Vikhle from Jan Swastya Abhiyan ,Ulka Mahajan from Ana Adhikar Abhiyan, Taruna from Ration Kriti Samiti, Mahesh More from Raigad Janhit Parishad, Shehnaz Shaikh from National Hawker Federation, Virar, Shabbir Sheikh from Movement for Peace and Justice, Jalgaon and Sudhir Badami Activist on Transportation engineering and urban issues spoke on the occasion , your report did not reflect this at all
The event’s preparations were not without controversy. The original venue for the event was: the National College Auditorium on Linking Road. It became unavailable at the eleventh hour. The organisers had been offered use of the auditorium thanks to the kindness of a patron who also happened to be an ex-Principal of the said college. It has been reported in the media that the organisers neither sought permission properly nor paid the necessary charges for the auditorium. In truth, the organisers never got a chance to meet the Principal to make their case, having been preceded by Bandra’s finest enforcers of public law and order. What law and order issue the law and order authorities saw in a public hearing, and organised privately in a private venue, is a question they have to answer in the larger public interest. Clearly, they believe they can get away by avoiding media queries on the matter.
This sort of administrative high-handedness is, ironically, one of the main themes in Aadhaar’s implementation. Governments at the centre and in the states, as well as the Unique Identification Authority of India, have never offered a shred of transparency about their operations. It has become routine practice for RTI queries to be blocked under the pretext of national security. It has also become commonplace for all concerned agencies to deny that any breaches of Aadhaar security – “#AadhaarLeaks” – have occurred, while issuing FIRs to researchers and journalists who have thrown a light on these instances.
The reason for organising #BreakAadhaarChains events in Chennai, in Bangalore, in Delhi, in Kolkata, or in Mumbai is so that citizens need to be aware that their concerns and complaints against government agencies and officials. These concerns cannot be whimsically waved away – if an individual demand is ignored, a collective demand must be made. That is a Constitutional promise made to the citizens. Any and all officers serving the Constitution of India are duty-bound to respond – and if they fail to do so, we must ask why.
Kamayani Bali Mahabal,
Ramu Ramanathan ,
J T Dsouza ,
Prof R Ramakumar,TISS
Vidyut, for Break Aadhaar chains campaign