“Our fight as people with disability and our statement against the CAA, NPR and NRC are the same as they both fight for Constitutional rights for equality,” said professor TNM Deepak, president of the December 3 Movement, Tamil Nadu. He is one of the 45 signees of the statement released by the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled.
The statement spoke of their “apprehension” regarding questions surrounding parents’ date and place of birth, stating that PwDs did not have generational identification proof. “People, especially children, with intellectual disabilities like autism might not be able to provide these proofs, especially those that are abandoned by their families. Additionally, many people with disability live in homes or institutions, and thus sourcing these papers is difficult for them,” he said. On the provision of identification documents, the statement expressed concerns of cross-checking biometrics with the Unique Identification Authority of India. “Experience shows that the problems of mismatch of Aadhaar generated biometrics have deprived lakhs of poor and differently-abled of their entitlements. Additionally, lakhs of differently-abled have not been able to enroll for Aadhaar due to a variety of problems,” it read.
According to Smitha Sadasivam, who assisted in organising an Aadhaar registration camp at Vidya Sagar School in 2017, children with disability found it difficult to record biometric data. “The situation was traumatic for the children and was not accessible. We were eventually told that one biometric data would be enough, but that does not account for people with autism. Even taking the photo before going for the biometric data registration was difficult for many with movement disorders, and many had their Aadhaar rejected afterwards,” she said.
Deepak added that lack of streamlining of disability certificates has led to unwieldy and cyclical trips to officials to procure the right documentation or certification, which leads to hardship and mental strain. Repetitive visits to inaccessible spaces is another concern in the statement shared by local activists. “We are also equally concerned about the serious and long-term mental health issues that the process of NPR/NRC/CAA is already having and is likely to have on all concerned residents of India. We, therefore, reject the discriminatory CAA. We call for a complete halt to the NPR/NRC process. We extend our unflinching support and solidarity to the various movements that are going on against the CAA/NPR/NRC exercise,” read the statement.