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Based on UIDAI complaint, Hyderabad Police shuts down illegal Aadhaar operation

Similar frauds reported in Haryana and other parts of India cast doubts on the perceived ‘infallibility’ of Aadhaar.

Aadhaar, PAN Card

Based on a complaint from the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Hyderabad Police recently nabbed several persons allegedly involved in a fake Aadhaar enrollment racket and seized biometric devices such as iris and fingerprint scanners from them.

A gang consisting of eight persons who were using unauthorised Aadhaar kits with identification cards from Assam were apprehended by the Hyderabad Commissioner’s Task Force, West Zone team, and Golconda Police, according to a press release issued by the Hyderabad City Police.

There is an order from the Central Government that, IDs issued for the states should be used within the state only. But the accused persons with mollified intention to cheat the Government of India, hatched a plan to use the Assam identities in Hyderabad for Aadhar enrollments and updates — Hyderabad Police official

The incident raises questions on the perceived ‘infallibility’ of Aadhaar and on the government’s proposal to link the identification card with the electoral processes of the country for purportedly identifying duplicate voters.

Birth certificates also forged for Aadhaar enrollment

The accused procured Assam-based Aadhaar kits and started enrollments for Aadhaar cards in their respective shops a while back. However, the police found that they were also forging birth certificates for Aadhaar enrollment or updates, a source said.

“They were uploading details of persons (based on Assam-based ids) for Aadhaar to needy customers in Hyderabad and cheating UIDAI by doing this from an unauthorised location,” a source said. They were also allegedly procuring different types of stamps of various gazetted officers for attestation purposes.

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On the complaint given by the UIDAI, the following cases were registered against the accused.

  •  Cr.No.932/2021 U/s 420, 467, 468, 471 r/w 120(B) IPC, Sec.65 of IT Act 2000 and Sec.42 of Aadhaar (Targeted delivery of Financial and other subsidies benefits and services) Act 2016 of Banjara Hills PS.
  • Cr.No.358/2021 U/s Section 42 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016 r/w 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120(B) IPC and Sec.65 of Information Technology Act-2000 of Golconda PS.

The accused had their property seized and were handed over to SHO, Golconda PS, Hyderabad for taking necessary action.

Haryana Police recently shut down illegal Aadhaar operations

In June 2021, Haryana Police said that it busted a gang whose members allegedly siphoned off money from people’s accounts using the Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS) by cloning fingerprints in Palwal district.

A Haryana Police spokesperson said that five members of the gang, including a woman, who were involved in online fraud worth crores of rupees were arrested by conducting raids at different locations in Delhi and Palwal. The police recovered —

  • 1 biometric machine
  • 220 fingerprint clones
  • 68 blank Aadhaar cards
  • 5 Aadhaar cards
  • 21 PAN cards
  • 1 fingerprint rubber stamp machine
  • 11 debit cards of different banks
  • 270 SIM cards
  • 1 laptop
  • 5 bottles rubber gel photo polymer
  • 2078 copies of registries (out of which 10 copies used in online fraud)
  • 64 passport size photographs
  • Printer
  • 1 pen drive
  • 1 lamination machine

Security of Aadhaar ecosystem in question

From media reports and published research, the prevalence of fraudulent Aadhaar cards — created either by forgery or through falsification of documents — is much wider. In 2018, independent researchers Anmol Somanchi and Vipul Paikra had compiled a database of over 73 incidents of misuse of Aadhaar cards reported in English media that year. Of these, 52 cases involved were around fake or forged Aadhaar numbers. The fraudulent Aadhaar cards were being used to siphon off ration grains, carry out land transfers, procure passports, and get loans, among other things.

Somanchi told IndiaSpend that initially they had included Hindi reports as well, and had found more such incidents. In total, the database consists of 164 incidents reported since 2011, of which 52 involve forgery.

Last year, the Indian government said that 40,955 fraudulent Aadhaar numbers were discovered and cancelled as of August 31, 2020. The ministry’s admission to having identified more than 40,000 fraudulent numbers raises questions about the security of the Aadhaar ecosystem.

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Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

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