The Madurai district and city police have asked weapons manufacturers and sellers of knives, billhooks, and sickles to obtain the personal details of their customers, including Aadhaar numbers, according to a report by the Times of India. The directive was issued on September 29 during meetings between the weapons dealers and the city and district police of Madurai.
Under the police’s directive, sellers and weapons manufacturers would have to record the details in their registers before making a sale. The collection of unique IDs such as Aadhaar raises concerns of potential privacy breaches or misuse in case it falls in the hands of unscrupulous elements.
What is the police doing?
V. Baskaran, the Madurai district superintendent of police (DSP) told MediaNama that the district police have asked weapons dealers to collect “only address and phone number to register their (customers’) identity (although) Aadhar is also accepted.” Baskaran added that the police were not looking to create any database of sorts with the information.
The city police have asked that the registers created by weapons sellers and manufacturers also include the customers’ reasons for purchase, according to the Times of India. Both police departments have asked such parties to install CCTV cameras in their stores to alert the police about any suspicious activity.
“The weapons manufacturers and sellers too want to keep themselves safe and so we are expecting them to co-operate. They may sell to rowdy elements out of compulsion. So we are hoping that they will alert the police quickly of any suspicious activity,” Baskaran was quoted as saying by TOI.
State police’s use of Aadhaar
Under section 29 of the Aadhaar Act, it is illegal for law enforcement agencies to use Aadhaar biometric data. However various state police departments have created their own databases of repeat offenders and criminals, linked to their Aadhaar numbers.
In 2017, Telangana police officials reportedly went across the state to collect the Aadhaar details of listed offenders. They asked them to produce their Aadhaar cards, took photographs of the IDs, and recorded the fingerprints of the individuals on their mobile phones.
That year, Madhya Pradesh police also reportedly created an Aadhaar-linked database of around 3,000 repeat offenders.
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