Investigation into the arrest of nine Bangladeshi nationals by Cubbon Park police has revealed that one of them, who had been living in Bangalore for the last one year, had even managed to get an Aadhaar card.
City Police Commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar has noted that the commissionerate will look into whether the process of providing Aadhaar cards can be made more foolproof.
“I don’t know how these people got Aadhaar cards so easily. I myself had to go at least thrice to the centre and provide various documents and proofs before I got an Aadhaar card,” he said.
“There is no police verification required to get an Aadhaar card or an EPIC card, at present. We will look into whether we can suggest a better verification process to make the process foolproof,” he said.
According to the police, Mohammad Masoom (28), son of Mohammad Anwar, was the first to come to Bangalore. He later brought eight others to the city, along with their families, the investigation revealed.
“During the investigation, he showed us his Aadhaar card. He said that he had applied for the card showing his rental documents as address proof. Another immigrant too said he has an Aadhaar card, although he did not furnish it,” police said.
According to officials in the Army headquarters for the Karnataka and Kerala sub-area, where the immigrants were working, Masoom had been employed with them for over three years while the others were relatively new.
“During police verification, we asked them where they are from. They told us the group was from Bangladesh, which is when we handed them over to the police. Apart from an Aadhaar card, he also had loan documents with which he was planning to purchase a vehicle,” a police official said.
The group had entered the country through Assam and Malda in West Bengal. From Malda, they took a train to Kolkata and from there to Bangalore, the official said.
While the fact that the illegal immigrants were able to receive Aadhaar cards, is of concern, the local police inspector claims that they are not investigating the issue, but are focused on deporting the immigrants.
However, considering that Masoom was able to get an Aadhaar card using his rent agreement as address proof, concerns have been raised with regard to the possibility that if he tried, he could have got an EPIC card too and registered as a voter.
Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha noted that an Aadhaar card can be used as age or address proof. “We usually depend on educational certificates as age proof, but Aadhaar cards can also be produced as age proof and rental documents as address proof,” he said.
While someone could get away with this, he added that stringent verification, especially with regard to physical address verification, is necessary to ensure that miscreants did not get into the system. “We also call for public notices to check authenticity of applicants before electoral registration,” he said.
Nandan Nilekani, who quit as UIDAI chairman on Thursday, noted that Aadhaar was never proof of citizenship, but only a proof of identity. “Aadhaar only proves that you are you, not that you are a citizen of India. Even if you have to get an EPIC card or register as a voter, you need to have other supporting documents.”
Police officials have ruled out the possibility of a security threat from the illegal immigrants.