Kari Sidamma, a 60-year-old woman who has been working with the Irular community in Tamil Nadu for the last 20 years, lost an eye and her nose in a wild bear attack when she was eight-years-old. Yeas later, this unfortunate event has come back to haunt her as she's unable to get an Aadhar card because of the same.
For the past one week, Kari Sidamma has been visiting the Chennai corporation office in Adyar. On the first day, when she attempted to procure the Aadhar card, she was asked by the volunteers in the office to come at different timings during the day. But her wait bore no fruit as they finally told her that she'd have to come the next day since they could only accommodate 60 applicants in a day.
"The next day, I was the 60th person and I had to wait the whole day to apply for my Aadhar card,â€ť she said.
But when her turn came, the staff refused to take her biometrics.
â€śThey told me that they cannot take my biometrics and asked me to come the next day morning,â€ť she said. For the next two days, Kari Sidamma was told by the staff that as she did not have one eye, they could not take her biometrics and give her an Aadhar card.
Fed up of the situation, Kari Sidamma met a senior officer in the corporation office. The officer took down Kari Sidammaâ€™s phone number and told her that they will contact her once they find out how they could provide her an Aadhar card.
But her ordeal did not end there.
On Monday, when Kari Sidamma went back to the corporation office, the officer said that she cannot apply for the Aadhar card as they cannot take her biometrics. â€śI began shouting at the officer and refused to go anywhere else. I asked her to give me in writing that a person with one eye cannot be given an Aadhar card and that I will go to the court and file a petition. After this, a staff member took the biometrics of one eye and I applied for my Aadhar card,â€ť she said.
After this incident, Kari Sidamma is worried about people like her who have disabilities.
â€śWhat happens to others with disabilities? I can manage as I know the law and I can talk to them. But what about people who do not know how to read and write and do not have ten fingers and two eyes? The government should declare that persons with disability do not need an Aadhar card. It is so shaming to be insulted like this in government offices,â€ť she said.
Speaking to The News Minute, Deepak Nathan, an activist for persons with disability, said, â€śThere are three accessibility issues that need to be looked at: one is physical access, process access and thirdly, product access. The way the buildings have been put up, how many buildings have ramps? Secondly, how many application forms have big fonts, or braille or people trained in sign language to help a hearing impaired person? Does Aadhar come in braille? How will a visually impaired person figure out that his own card was stolen or if he was given a different one?â€ť he asked.