The biometric details of an Aadhaar operator in Haryana’s Jind was allegedly stolen and misused, with the credentials being used in multiple cities in a single day, Huffpost India reported on Wednesday. The Unique Identification Authority of India had barred Vikram Sheokhand in November 2018 from working as an Aadhaar enrolment operator for five years, after they detected that his credentials were being misused.
Going by the UIDAI’s records, Sheokhand’s digital fingerprints were used on November 12, 2018, at three bank branches in Haryana, and the Madhya Pradesh State Electronics Development Corporation in Bhopal – each transaction was a few hours apart. However, Sheokhand insisted that he was in Uchana village of Jind, where he works as the Aadhaar operator at the State Bank of India office, at that time.
“I am not a ghost who can travel from Jind to Madhya Pradesh in less than a second and simultaneously work in SBI’s branch in Uchana,” Sheokhand told HuffPost India.
Sheokhand is one of several Aadhaar operators who were penalised last year after their login and biometric details were misused to generate unauthorised Aadhaar cards. FIA Technology Services Private Limited and Sanjivini Consultants Private Limited were assigned as vendors to SBI in Chandigarh region to reach its Aadhaar enrolment target. The Chandigarh region includes Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir, besides the Union Territory of Chandigarh itself.
However, nearly half of the Aadhaar operators associated with these agencies were penalised, and were either deactivated or blacklisted. Sheokhand has been penalised Rs 33 lakh for alleged fraudulent transactions. His employer FIA Technology Systems said the UIDAI is investigating the case.
Digital fingerprints possibly still at large
The UIDAI has asked Sheokhand to lock his biometrics that would temporarily disable his Aadhaar authentication. However, he continues to receive automated email alerts informing him that someone had tried to log into the Aadhaar system using his fingerprints, but had failed since his details are locked, Huffpost India reported. This suggests that the digital copies of his fingerprints are still at large.
“What if someone misuses my biometrics and frames me in some major financial fraud, or plans some major terror activity?” Sheokhand told the news website. “I am terrified every time I unlock my biometrics on the UIDAI server.”
Since the UIDAI blacklisted him, Sheokhand has been working as a computer operator in a rural citizen service centre, helping citizens access various schemes. However, this too requires him to use biometrics in order to access specific government portals.
It is unclear where the UIDAI has lifted Sheokhand’s fine.