On 5 December, a day after The New Indian Express had written about the plight of 65-year-old Sajida Begum in the Leprosy Hospital in Bangalore’s Magadi Road, help started to pour in from several sectors. The story was widely shared on the internet, and many came forward to help Sajida Begum in times of her distress.
The Revenue Secretary and the Unique Identification Department of the Centre for e-Governance said they would look into the matter.
On 6 December, The New Indian Express reported that at a special enrolment camp held for the patients at Leprosy Hospital on Magadi Road by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Sajida and six others got their Aadhaar card done.
The leprosy hospital medical officer, Dr Ayub Ali Khan Zai authenticated the biometric details for all the seven patients.
Sajida was given her pension for October – the treasury department assured that they had released her pension for September and November.
What were Sajida’s problems?
A permanent resident of the Leprosy Hospital, Sajida used to receive, Rs. 1,000 annuity every month. However, three months back, her pension was stopped because she did not possess 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 had no card as she did not have the required biometrics for the Aadhaar. She had lost her fingers and her sight, to leprosy. With no relatives and family member to take care of her, Sajida was in desperate need of her money.
Not a one-off case
Although Sajida’s problem has been solved, for the time being, the troubles that she went through is not something new. Many others with physical disabilities have suffered this kind of difficulties.
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 appreciates the coverage that was taken up by The New Indian Express that helped Sajida’s story to garner public attention and finally resulted in her getting an Aadhaar card. This case reiterates the fact that the government should make more inclusive policies for people from myriad backgrounds.
Read the full story here.