Arunav Sinha , TNN | May 12, 2013, 03.48 AM
LUCKNOW: Taking cognizance of complaints of ‘ casteism’ practised allegedly within the precincts of the Lucknow regional office of Unique Identification Authority of India, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes has asked UIDAI’s regional office, Lucknow to submit a probe report and action it intends to take by May 21.
The May 7 letter issued by the NCSC state office for UP and Uttarakhand seeks the response of the UIDAI Lucknow office by May 21, 2013. TOI has a copy of the letter issued by the NCSC.
The letter’s footnote reads further, “National Commission for Scheduled Castes is a constitutional authority. You are expected to respond within stipulated time, failing which the commission will be constrained to invoke constitutional powers to deal with the matter.”
In his 13-point complaint (a copy of which is with TOI) submitted before the NCSC, a former quality control operator at UIDAI, Vijay Kumar, has alleged he was “harassed” as he is a dalit. In one of the 13 points, he states, “Abhishek Mishra, Assistant, had on a number of occasions prevented me from drinking water before others as I am a dalit. Once when I told Abhishek Mishra about the water cooler not functioning properly, he snubbed me saying if the water cooler is not working properly, I should not complain and instead find some other source for drinking water.”
When contacted, ADG CS Mishra confirmed having received a letter from NCSC, and said, “A probe would be conducted and stringent action would be taken against anyone who is found guilty.”
Vijay also claims that nepotism is rampant in UIDAI. “The blue-eyed boys of assistant director generals (ADGs) CS Mishra and Ashutosh Ojha enjoy a comfortable position in office.” He adds, “The two ADGs and Abhishek Mishra call the shots in this office and routinely harass the staffers. It was precisely the reason I did not dare to open my mouth against them, as I was in an extremely defenceless position.”
Expressing his fear, Vijay says, “I fear threat to life from these senior officials at UIDAI’s Lucknow regional office and they may frame false charges against me. Sadly, my tormentor has been asked to investigate and take action. I hope I get justice.”
Adding weight to the claims of Vijay, four other former staffers of UIDAI Lucknow, who were “sacked”, have lodged a complaint before the National Human Rights Commission alleging harassment by the two ADGs and the assistant. TOI has a copy of the NHRC complaint as well. All the complaints are currently under consideration of the NHRC.
Debashish Gargory, one of the five complainants, says, “We have been made to suffer as we did not follow the diktats of these officials, especially Abhishek Mishra, who works at the behest of the two ADGs.” Gargory adds, “We even tried to raise our concerns before the senior officials of UIDAI Headquarter but we did not get any response to our emails. Finally, on April 13, we decided to move the National Human Rights Commission.” He also alleged manipulating of attendance in the office, and ADGs turning blind eye to it.
As if the complaints of alleged harassment were not enough to highlight a seemingly sad facet of the UIDAI, a number of RTIs addressed to the UID headquarters Delhi and Lucknow regional office also indicate that all is certainly not well.
In one of the RTI applications, the applicant has sought information regarding the justification of providing high-end mobile phones and staff cars to officers who are not eligible for the same. Several other questions in the RTI applications (copy with TOI) hint at rules being possibly tweaked in the name of running a “project”.
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