BENGALURU: Sajida Begum, 65, has been living at the Leprosy Hospital on Magadi Road for the past 10 years. Her family left her at the hospital years ago and does not come to visit. This leprosy patient’s only sustenance is the Rs 1,000 pension that she gets every month. Three months ago, this was stopped for the lack of an Aadhaar card.
Sajida has lost her fingers and also her sight to the debilitating disease. In August this year, she got a letter from the deputy tahsildar’s office in Rajajinagar that her pension would stop in seven days if she failed to link it with her Aadhaar card. Sajida has no card. Fingerprint and iris scan are mandatory for Aadhaar verification, but Sajida doesn’t have those biometrics.
Dr Ayub Ali Zai, administrative medical officer, Leprosy Hospital, said, “She buys clothes and meets her meagre needs with that money. But since August she hasn’t received pension. She is totally blind in both the eyes, has no fingers or toes. I don’t know how her biometric identification can be done.” Zai wrote a letter to UIDAI officials requesting them to exempt her from biometric verification considering her problem. “We don’t know if this is just an administrative delay in sending pension or if they have stopped it,” he added.
Sajida sobs inconsolably when asked about her family. “I don’t know where my daughter and son-in-law are. Nobody comes to see me. Please give me my money,” she cried.The 100-bed hospital currently has 57 inmates, and Zai says at least 10 of them have no Aadhaar card. Zai said, “There is another patient called Rajanna who doesn’t have an Aadhaar card and has received the same letter from the tahsildar’s office.”
‘Leprosy patients can get Aadhaar rejection letter’
Of 57 inmates at the Leprosy Hospital on Magadi Road, at least 10 of them have no Aadhaar card, said Dr Ayub Ali Zai, administrative medical officer of the hospital. Zai said, “There is another patient called Rajanna who doesn’t have an Aadhaar card and has received the same letter from the tahsildar’s office. He has sight so I think even without his fingers, they can do biometric identification. How can these patients wait for camps to get enrolled? They should get the cards as soon as possible.”
Boraiah, another patient, has been making futile visits to the enrolment centre. He has been trying to get a card for his wife Puttalingamma who is also a patient. “People at the Bangalore One centre sent me back saying they cannot enrol her. I took her voter ID and told them she doesn’t have fingers,” he said.
There is lack of clarity on how people like Sajida or Puttalingamma can avail their Aadhaar cards. Officials at a Bangalore One centre said if the patient came with a medical certificate affixing a photo showing their hands, something could be done.
But when Express contacted UIDAI asking if exemptions could be made in biometrics for people with total disability, a top official requesting anonymity said, “Let them get enrolled first. Even if the woman doesn’t have sight, there may be biometrics that the machine can read. Only when the machine is unable to read and they get a rejection letter, it can be considered at the back end. There are cases where leprosy patients have got Aadhaar with whatever is left of their biometrics.”