The tweet pretty much says it all.

The tweeter has one Aadhaar and only one mobile number since 2000. When she went to the Airtel store to link her Aadhaar to her mobile number, she discovered that there were 9 other mobile numbers linked to it.

This case is interesting, because it clearly isn’t how fake SIMs have been shown to be created earlier, where the person buying a SIM was given their SIM and more SIMs were issued against their authenticated details for sale in the black market. The tweeter in this instance clearly had not used an Aadhaar to buy a SIM. So the question arises how her number was attached to 9 connections.

Two possibilities arise:

  • That her authenticated (for some other purpose) Aadhaar details or a photocopy of her Aadhaar were used to buy SIMs without her knowledge. Or
  • Existing numbers were linked to her Aadhaar card without any authentication being necessary.

We have, in the past seen fake SIMs issued against unsuspecting Aadhaar holders’ names being used for crimes. Ironically, under the Aadhaar act, she does not have the authority to take legal action against the misuse of her own Aadhaar. One has to wonder what the purpose is for the government and UIDAI to protect criminals in this manner while stripping people of their right to protect their identity.

Given that the SIMs are linked with her Aadhaar, if they are used for committing crimes, she would be at the mercy of police officials who may or may not be inclined to believe her innocence.

Update: Airtel confirmed that there was only one mobile connection in her name and denied that there was any breach, theft or leak of data. Which of course gives rise to the question why 9 other numbers were attached to her Aadhaar, which Airtel claims to be a technical glitch. In the meanwhile, she is still not able to connect her mobile number to her Aadhaar.

One wonders how a “technical glitch” like this is still not a breach of data. Mobile linking allegedly requires authentication. It is very hard to believe that an Aadhaar number could be “accidentally” authenticated – 9 times! Though of course, one cannot put any incompetence past the Aadhaar “ecosystem”. Every time you think we have hit the bottom of careless mistakes, a whole new level opens up.


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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