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'Even if one person dies because of Aadhaar, you scrap Aadhaar'

By Syed Firdaus Ashraf
September 26, 2018 13:57 IST
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'You want poor people who take 5 kg rice to produce an Aadhaar card.'
'The poor man may or may not have Aadhaar.'
'Poor people are losing their food and dying.'

In 2012, Bezwada Wilson was among those who filed a PIL challenging Aadhaar for violating citizens' right to privacy. This was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court in August 2017.

On Wednesday, September 26, 2018, soon after the apex court declared Aadhaar to be Constitutional, Wilson, national convener of the Safai Karamchari Andolan and a winner of the Magsaysay Award, spoke to's Syed Firdaus Ashraf.

Your first reaction to the Supreme Court judgment upholding Aadhaar.

It is disappointing because we said in our petition that privacy is important and we cannot reveal our details unnecessarily to the State. And now the judgment is saying that it does not affect privacy.

Secondly, we are talking about the most marginalised sections and the court is saying that the majority got benefits (from Aadhaar). So what?

The court is not here to protect the majority or minority. They are not forming a government, but giving a judgment.

You have to give justice to the least.


Why do you think revealing details to the government is a problem?

There is no need to give so much information to the State, there is no point in it.

Individuals must have the freedom to hold their information and must decide what to reveal and what not to reveal.

We Indian citizens are not some foreigners who are coming from outside and need to be accountable (to the State). We don't need to do that.

I don't need to give so much information to the State.

Different ministries of the government are taking my (personal) information, like the external affairs ministry issues passports because of Aadhaar.

So the State is telling every citizen that it will give passports only if they give all their (personal) details. But why?

What is wrong if the government asks for such details while issuing a passport? That is how democracy works, isn't it?

No, democracies don't work like that.

Democracies work with the willingness of the people and not by imposing something on the people. It does not work that way.

Aisa nahi hota hai na, the government comes and says that you cut your hair and trim your beard because they want you to look good.

It is my wish whether I want to trim my beard or cut my hair.

How did Vijay Mallya go out of the country in spite of Aadhaar?

Will Aadhaar stop all this nonsense?

Will Aadhaar stop all the non-performing assets?

Why is Aadhaar so important for giving subsidies to the poor?

You want to streamline the subsidies of the poor. Why not begin with the rich people?

The government is completely suppressing the poor and their aspirations. Let them have their freedom.

Why do you want to have such kind of judgment?

Linking Aadhaar with subsidies is good because it can stop leakages.

Do you mean to say we never gave subsidy without Aadhaar in this country?

Aadhaar is going to control food?;

Digitalisation is not a solution for corruption.

What is the solution then? India has tried different methods to stop corruption in the last 70 years.

We have not done anything wrong with the poor and their subsidies. We made a mistake with the rich people.

You find out how much benefit rich industrialists are getting from the government. Show some courage, as nobody is asking these questions.

You want poor people who take 5 kg rice to produce an Aadhaar card. The poor man may or may not have Aadhaar.

Thumb impressions are not matching and the government wants an Aadhaar card.

Poor people are losing their food and dying.

Even if one person dies because of Aadhaar, you scrap Aadhaar.

The government is not here for a benefits business. It is here to reach the poorest.

Aadhaar originally came about because there was corruption in the subsidy system and it was seen as a route to plug it.

Then catch hold of the corruption of industrialists, why are you going after food subsidy?

Why do you want to start with the poor?

How many politicians use Aadhaar?

In the name of the poor they are playing this game!

Do you feel the government has no right to ask questions of citizens?

My privacy is my right. That is my fundamental right and they have already sold (my) information, which has been proved.

They will only come with one or two examples how Aadhaar is good, but one or two instances mean that these kinds of things (selling personal information) can happen.

Photograph: PTI Photo

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