A 23-year-old pregnant woman named Sana Khan from Mumbai was turned away from BMC Maternity Home, simply because she didn’t have an Aadhaar card. She was only allowed to be admitted into the maternity home after activists intervened on her behalf.
Of course, refusing to serve a patient because she doesn’t have an Aadhaar card isn’t legal…yet. Still, various government bodies and institutions working in health care have slowly been making moves that make it all but impossible to receive comprehensive treatment without having an Aadhaar card.
Back in June, we saw a lot of back and forth in the newspapers about whether it was necessary for TB patients to have an Aadhaar card, after it was reported that the government had made it mandatory for TB patients to have Aadhaar cards if they wanted to receive the cash assistance given out by the government. As it stands, they do need an Aadhaar card to avail cash benefits, but won’t be turned away or denied treatment if they don’t have one.
Meanwhile, the UP government has made it mandatory for people to have Aadhaar cards if they want to avail of the state’s ambulance services. If you call an ambulance to your home, either you or your relative needs to have an Aadhaar. Can you imagine the confusion, chaos and loss of life this could cause, considering the obvious fact that ambulances are only called for in dire emergencies where you don’t have the time to hunt down an Aadhaar-registered cousin? What would happen to pregnant women on the brink of delivering babies?
This story from Mumbai, of course, comes close on the heels of a truly terrible story from Jharkand which activists are basically calling murder by the government. An 11-year-old tribal girl named Santoshi Devi from Simdega died of starvation after her family was denied food rations because their ration card was not linked with Aadhaar. This terrible even was a result of the government going ahead with a move to cancel non-linked cards, a move the Supreme Court had already issued a directive against.
Despite this tragedy, the Jharkand government intends to continue with the plan to cancel ration cards that aren’t linked to Aadhaar cards, making it clear that in the case of universal Aadhaar, there’s literally nothing the government puts above it: not privacy, not bodily integrity, not medicine, not food.