SRINAGAR: All the families in Jammu and Kashmir will soon have unique alpha-numeric code, a specific digital identity. Officials said it is aimed at “easy selection “of eligible beneficiaries of various social welfare schemes but the native political class sees it differently.

Data theft and hacking is a major area of the new technology. Some hackers are even in huge demand.

The revelation about the “code” was made by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha while addressing a national conference on e-governance in the Katra area of the Reasi district. It was at this conference when Sinha and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar released the Digital J&K Vision Document, unveiling the Government plan to create an authentic, verified and reliable database of all families of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Each family will be provided with a unique alpha-numeric code called JK Family ID,” Jammu newspaper Daily Excelsior reported from the vision document. “The data available in the family database would be used to determine eligibility through automatic selection of beneficiaries for receiving social benefits.”

The newspaper said the database would identify “each and every family in J&K and would collect the basic data of the family, provided with the consent of the family, in a digital format.”

The document further reads that all the applicable laws and regulations in respect of data protection shall be complied with in the management of data.

To thwart risks and protect sensitive and critical data, it said the Jammu and Kashmir Government plans to work on an information security policy and also envisages formulation of an appropriate cyber security framework.

Jammu and Kashmir had 20,15,088 households in 2011 when the last census took place. By now, the number might have crossed 25 lakh.

Soon after the news broke, political parties started questioning the database and creation of the unique IDs with Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti terming the move as a step towards further “surveillance” on the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Creating a unique family ID’ for J&K residents is emblematic of the widening trust deficit esp (especially) post-2019. Kashmiris are viewed with deep suspicion & this is another surveillance tactic to tighten the iron grip on their lives,” Mehbooba tweeted.

Former Chief Minister and National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah while questioning the move said the government is reducing people and families to numbers like inmates of a jail.

“The JK administration is passing the strange orders; today they [administration] say a new identification number will be introduced. Each family will get a unique number, for what,” Abdullah told a gathering down south Kashmir on Tuesday. He said Kashmiris are being asked to provide Aadhar numbers, then orders were passed for PAN numbers, and voter IDs, and now the residents are being asked for household numbers. “This happens nowhere in India,” he said.

He said people are known by their names, like Syeds, Wanis, and Abdullahs. In Kashmir, people will be known by numbers. “He is 15, he is 17, he is 18, I am 20. Now we will not be identified by our names but by numbers,” the NC vice president said. “We will have to be present in the government department and introduce ourselves by our unique numbers. Asalamulaikum Jenab, mein 21, hun”.

“Is this what is being planned by the authorities, is this how you are trying to remove our existence, we thought you were only after our flag and special status,” he said. “Now, it’s proved that you are trying to remove our identification too.”

“The administration has its priorities messed up,” Tarigami said. “Instead of focusing on the delivery of existing schemes and helping people through this difficult time, they are creating more work for themselves and more difficulties for people.”

A senior leader of the Peoples Conference, Nizamuddin Bhat, said that the decision will cause more inconvenience instead of making life easier for people. “We have every reason to doubt the bonafides of this administration, which has been doing a lot of things in the name of security and making life comfortable for people,” Bhat was quoted saying. “The administration is compounding these doubts by rolling out policy decisions which will yield nothing in the long run.”

LG Sinha said that the process would be consensual with all families willingly doing it.

“There are many people who seek pensions from the government. They wouldn’t need to keep applying after this, we will have the data and we will reach the beneficiary,” he said.


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