Sajida Begum, 65, is a permanent resident of the Leprosy Hospital in Magadi Road. She receives sustenance of Rs. 1,000 annuity every month. However, three months back, her pension was stopped because she did not possess an Aadhaar card, reports The New Indian Express.
The 100-bed hospital currently has 57 patients, out of whom ten do not have an Aadhaar card.
In August this year, she received a letter from the delegate tahsildar’s office in Rajajinagar. It stated that her pension would stop in seven days if she did not link her Aadhaar card.
Sajida has no card. She also does not have the required biometrics for the Aadhaar as she has lost her fingers and her sight, to leprosy. With no relatives and family member to take care of her, Sajida is in desperate need of her money.
A top official from UIDAI said to The New Indian Express, “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.”
Sajida’s case, not the only one
The problem that Sajida is facing is not something new. Many others with physical disabilities have suffered this kind of troubles.
On account of the problems faced by parents of children with disabilities during the enrolment process, the Spastics Society of Karnataka conducted an Aadhaar camp with the UIDAI some time back.
“Access to the centres is difficult, and there are problems when it comes to the biometric process. Children with autism, for example, need time to adjust to the settings and to cooperate. For those with spasticity, it comes into play during the process,” said Priya Rao, the Associate Director of Spastics Society of Karnataka.
Sajida’s case is a harsh reminder of Sitaram, a poor farmer from Islamabad, Bijnor district, Uttar Pradesh. Sitaram owned two buffalos that helped him plough his field; one of them died. Due to his financial incapacity, he could not afford to purchase another buffalo.
As agriculture is the only source of income of his family, Sitaram took it upon himself to plough the field. Despite having only one hand, he keeps one end of the massive plough on his shoulder and the other end on his buffalo and ploughs his field.
He does not have an Aadhaar card due to his physical disability and thus cannot access the government welfare schemes.
The Logical Indian empathises with Sajida Begum’s conditions and urges the government to look into the unique needs of differently-abled individuals. It is crucial that the government make more inclusive policies for people from myriad backgrounds.