As the deadline for linking Aadhaar with various utilities like telephone and bank accounts approaches — it is December 31 — senior citizen Razia Malik finds herself in a fix. Malik, who is differently-abled, is yet to find an Aadhaar enrolment centre which has barrier-free access. Malik, who underwent a spinal cord surgery in 2012, has limited mobility and moves around in a customised wheelchair. Over the last few years, several enrolment centres had mushroomed in various parts of the city, but many of them have closed down.
Malik’s ordeal started when the December 31 deadline for linking bank accounts and mobile numbers with Aadhaar was announced. Her son Tausif said they realised the seriousness of the problem when her mobile phone operator started sending out messages warning that the service would be disconnected if she failed to provide her Aadhaar details. “Initially, we looked for enrollment centres located nearby, but most had closed down… the nearest such centre, at Kausarbaug, has been non-functional since many months,” said Tausif.
The only functional centre in Kondhwa was operating out of a small shop, which had no access for a wheelchair-bound person, he said. “There are 18 steps which lead to the centre… and there is no way to accommodate a wheelchair,” he said. The Maliks then sought help from Sainath Babar, the local corporator. “Babar called up many enrolment centres, but none had barrier-free access. None were ready even to come home to enroll my mother and record her biometric details,” said Tausif.
Tausif also took to social media to seek help. “I had emailed Niti Ayog… I also went on Twitter and other social media platforms to seek help, but nothing happened… I had even started a trend — #AadharforDisabled — to draw attention to the problem but it is yet to yield any results,” he said.
As the Aaadhar deadline is only a few weeks away, the Mailks say that they are feeling increasingly helpless in the matter. “What will happen to my mother’s bank account or her passport if we are not able to link them with Aadhaar? We are at our wit’s end on how to get an Aadhaar card for her and it is proving to be an impossible task,” he said.