Jayashree of Chennai was refused cashless treatment claim by Cigna TTK Health Insurance without Aadhaar when she was unwell and admitted to Fortis Malar Hospital for treatment. This is part of a inhuman imposition of Aadhaar in the face of mortal need. Her story sparked instant outrage on social media when Vinay Aravind posted the following tweet.

Several prominent handles tweeted to the Cigna TTK Twitter handle, while Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nandy bluntly advised Cigna TTK Health Insurance that they opened themselves to civil and criminal consequences over the illegal denial.

The unfavorable publicity (not to mention the denial of the claim was illegal) “sorted out” the issue within a day with Cigna TTK issuing a muddled clarification that cited “procedural requirement” as well as miscommunication and saying that they would not be able to process claims without Aadhaar after March 31, 2018, none of which addressed their own actions in the denial.

This incident was resolved with the rule of law prevailing due to the exceptional outrage it generated. However, denials of all kinds of service are increasingly common if an Aadhaar number is not provided, regardless of the deadline for linking being extended. A woman in labour was turned away by a hospital and delivered at the gate because she didn’t have an Aadhaar. The wife of a Kargil martyr died when treatment was delayed for lack of an Aadhaar. An 11 month old girl died when treatment was delayed due to lack of Aadhaar. A housemaid was refused a safe abortion for lack of Aadhaar. HIV patients are dropping out of treatment due to fears of identity leaks from linking of Aadhaar.

Countless instances of coersion by banks, telecoms, insurance companies, schools, and colleges pour in on a day to day basis. The government’s reckless proliferation of Aadhaar without regard to the human cost or security takes a daily toll on the well being of people of India. But it is in these cases involving healthcare and the merciless coersion in them that we see the UIDAI and the government stripped bare of all their claims of the need for Aadhaar. There is no money to be saved here, no fraud to be prevented, no terrorist to be caught. It is flat out force to link Aadhaar or die, because they don’t want to allow any Indian an escape from the illegal surveillance net. If it takes the fear of death to achieve it, they don’t care.

Vidyut is a commentator on socio-political issues with a keen understanding of tech and policy. She has been observing and commenting on Aadhaar since 2010 from a perspective of human rights, democracy and technological robustness.

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