All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi on Wednesday accused Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) of creating panic by abusing its powers and not following due procedure while issuing notices to 127 people in the city to prove their citizenship.
In a series of tweets, Owaisi said the UIDAI had no power to verify the citizenship of any individual. It has few powers to look into some cases of Aadhaar being granted incorrectly, he said.
Reacting to media reports that it had issued notices to 127 residents of Hyderabad who had allegedly obtained Aadhaar cards on false pretences, the UIDAI in a statement late Tuesday clarified that the notices were issued based on the complaints from the Telangana Police which suspect them of being illegal immigrants.
On UIDAI’s clarification that Aadhaar has got nothing to do with the citizenship issue as such, Owaisi pointed out that the notice served on a 40-year old auto rickshaw driver Mohd Sattar Khan of the old city of Hyderabad clearly asked the person to submit documents to prove his Indian citizenship.
“The notice is for verification of citizenship, not validity of Aadhaar. So, will UIDAI suspend the deputy director who issued the notice? They clearly exceeded their powers by issuing this notice. It was a bad faith and biased exercise of their powers,” the MIM chief said in one of his tweets.
The UIDAI said the issuance of the notices were on the basis of reports from the state police that 127 people had obtained Aadhaar on false pretences, as in their preliminary enquiry they were found illegal immigrants who were not qualified to obtain an Aadhaar number.
“Which police officer provided you with this information? Can Telangana Director General of Police confirm if they (the police) shared a list of 127 names with UIDAI? Can they tell us on what grounds (they were issued notices)? Since UIDAI has now shifted the responsibility to Telangana police, it is their responsibility to clear the air,” Owaisi said in another tweet.
He also sought to know from the UIDAI authorities and the Telangana police to disclose how many of those 127 people were Muslims and Dalits.
The UIDAI also asserted that the cancellation of Aadhar number (after inquiry) was in no way related to the nationality of the resident. “Sometimes it becomes necessary to cancel the Aadhaar number when it is found that a resident has obtained it by submitting false biometrics or documents. It is a routine quality improvement process that UIDAI takes up regularly,” the UIDAI press release said.
The UIDAI also announced postponement of personal hearing of the 127 Hyderabadi residents before the inquiry officer to May to enable them collect their original documents which they had submitted for obtaining Aadhaar. The hearing was originally scheduled for February 20 at a function hall in the old city.
However, those who received notices from UIDAI have not received any information from the authorities about the postponement of the hearing date. “We have seen only on the UIDAI twitter. So far, there is no communication from the authorities,” Sattar Khan’s advocate Muzafferullah Khan said.
Many of those served notices have started approaching lawyers seeking their help to prove their citizenship. “Apart from Sattar Khan, I have been approached by two others –Mohd Ismail Khan and Md Zakir, who got similar notices. Both are daily wage workers and were born and brought up in Hyderabad. Even their parents were Indian citizens by birth. How can they be asked to prove their Indian citizenship now?” Muzafferullah Khan asked.