We are becoming foreigners in our country…….
Pallavi Borgohain | 09 Jan 2008

As announced by the governor of Delhi, Tejendra Khanna, after 15 January 2008, every individual living in Delhi might have to produce an identity proof having his own photograph. It may be a ration card, driving license or voter id, but it should be issue

As announced by the governor of Delhi, Tejendra Khanna, after 15 January 2008, every individual living in Delhi might have to produce an identity proof having his own photograph. It may be a ration card, driving license or voter id, but it should be issue
The recent announcement of the governor of Delhi, Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna that from January 15, 2008, all people living in Delhi should have an identity card is really making us feel that we are going to be foreigners in our own country after some days! Though, he justifies that this step is taken to enhance the security of the city, how far is it going to help to improve the security situation of the city is still unsure.
As per his announcement made on Friday, January 4, 2008 in the company of the Delhi police Chief Y.S. Yadav, the identity proof should have the person’s photograph. He said, “electoral I-card, driving license, ration card, anything would do.” But the question is would this step actually help to keep the city secure? How helpful it would be to identify the terrorists? Won’t it be a means of harassing the general public in the name of security check? Or would it really prove beneficial in identifying the extremists and ensuring security. The questions are yet to be answered.
There are many more questions creeping in the minds of the common man like us. And the most common among all questions is – Delhi is crowded with more than 60% of the people from other states. Whether it is government sector or private sector, schools or colleges, manual labourers or higher officials, businessman or self employed, majority of the people are either from other states or people who have migrated from other states decades back. In fact, Delhi would stand still if these people are to stop working here.
Now the question is how many of the people living in Delhi has an identity proof as those listed by Governor Khanna? Even if you spend generations working in Delhi you cannot make a ration card or a voter-id in Delhi, unless you adopt some unsocial means. And if you think of a legal means it would take centuries to own your own property which is the first eligibility requirement to get a voter id or a ration card. On the other hand, there are majority of organizations which are unregistered and are not eligible to provide an identity card. You would find maximum people working in such organizations and so they do not have an identity proof. Then how would such persons provide an identity proof?
Also as mentioned by Khanna, the driving license of the other states will not be valid in Delhi (unless it is signed by the transport authority of Delhi). How could that be acceptable in a democratic country like India? Especially, when the Fundamental rights listed in the Indian constitution allows us ‘Right to Freedom’, according to which every Indian citizen will have the right
o          To freedom of speech and expression;
o          To assemble peaceably and without arms;
o          To form associations or unions;
o          To move freely throughout the territory of India;
o          To reside and settle in any part of the territory of India;
o          To practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
When constitution gives you the right to ‘reside and settle in any part of the territory of India’ and ‘move freely throughout the territory of India’, then how could the Governor of Delhi make it mandatory that the people residing in Delhi should have a identity proof of Delhi only, and invalidate the identity proof of other states? Again, in his earlier statement that the driving licenses of the other states should be validated by a transport authority of Delhi is also contrary to the Motor vehicle Act 1988. Isn’t his announcement against the rights of the citizens?
However, when this controversial issue is brought to the notice by various newspapers, Governor Khanna took a different stand telling that, “I never said it was mandatory to carry identity cards. Those who don’t carry them would not be put behind bars. It would only be convenient for citizens during security checks, which are essential given the vulnerability of the city to untoward incidents”. Again on the issue of driving license he said, “Some random license numbers would be generated by the computer and the holders will be called for validation. It would have nothing to do with the place where the license has been issued. Necessary changes on the Motor Vehicles Act would be done to enable this. We will do it this year, but there is no deadline. All these steps will be taken to ensure that citizens can drive safely on Delhi roads.” Aren’t his statements self-contradictory? How could we trust such schemes when he himself is unsure about the constitution?
These sorts of schemes are nothing new in Delhi. Even some few months back, the Chief Minister of Delhi also commented in a biased way against the people of other states living in Delhi. But we as citizens need to be aware of our rights before any one make us alien to our own country. Delhi is not only the place for the aborigines of Delhi alone (whose specific identity is still not known). If we go for a closer analysis we would find that there is hardly anyone who is the actual natives of Delhi. Moreover, being the capital of the country every person from every state may have to visit Delhi, whatever may be the purpose – political, social, health, education, tourism and so on. It is not necessary that every one who visits Delhi would have an identity proof of Delhi. If such is the case, why not the Delhi Government issue some sort of identity proof before enforcing such laws like carrying an identity proof of Delhi is mandatory!
Ripples of terror are always seen in Delhi. These are nothing new to the city. By introducing this sort of security measures it would not be much helpful for the government, because it is the poor and the uneducated citizens who don’t know about things like identity proof would suffer in the hands of the cops. Even many people are of the opinion that it would give more scope to the cops to harass people and earn money. Not only that in the name of identity proof, there are chances that many agencies would come up to provide forged ration cards, driving licenses and the like as identity proof to the people. On the contrary, the extremists or the unsocial agents who are far more cunning won’t be the victims, as there are hardly any extremists who lack a passport or voter-id.
Therefore, the recent announcement of the Delhi governor can be regarded as nothing more than a step-motherly attitude towards the people of other states living in Delhi and the poor and illiterate. No doubt it is an innovative step taken for enhancing the security of the city, provided it would have been taken in a systematic way without hurting the fundamental rights of the people.