Websites on which users can verify their Aadhaar number appeared to be unreachable on Tuesday, a day after The Wire published an article about the Aadhaar numbers of “Hanumanji” and a Pakistani spy deported in 2016 still being in use.
The article, published on Monday, detailed how the two Aadhaar numbers appeared to still be in use and were linked to LPG connections and bank accounts. It highlighted that the numbers were in use with different names – not Hanumanji or Mehboob Rajput, the name adopted by Pakistani spy Mehmood Akhtar to procure his Aadhaar card.
On December 13, 2017, The Wire emailed the Unique Identification Authority of India, asking whether Akhtar had indeed been able to enrol as Mehboob Rajput and whether his supposed Aadhaar number was genuine. However, two days after the email was sent, the Aadhaar number issued to Mehboob Rajput showed invalid, presumably deactivated.
Scroll.in had reported on how the Delhi Police had found that Akhtar had obtained the Aadhaar card fraudulently.
On Tuesday, the Indian Oil Indane’s website and the UIDAI’s own platform to verify Aadhaar were both unreachable. It may be noted that the Aadhaar authority tweeted out a link to its verification website to a user as recently as on Monday.
The Wire had found that two bank accounts were linked with the Aadhaar number issued to the Pakistani spy on October 17, 2017, and October 26, 2017, a year after he was deported. The news website also found that an LPG connection, which has been receiving subsidy payments, was issued in the name of “Mr Baijnath” in Agra and was also linked to this Aadhaar number.
In the case of “Hanumanji’s” Aadhaar number, which UIDAI Director General Vijay Madan had said was deactivated in 2014, The Wire found that a bank account was linked with that number on November 11, 2017.
The report prompted analysts to question how authorities authenticate Aadhaar numbers before linking them to bank accounts and other services. It also prompted them to question how safe it is to outsource third parties to enrol users to the Aadhaar system.