Thiruvananthapuram: Being a prisoner is no longer a hurdle to get Aadhaar card in Kerala now, thanks to the ambitious programme of the state Prisons Department.
With a target of linking all people in the state, cutting across age and other social barriers under Aadhaar, the Department has made it mandatory for jail inmates also.
Though the drive is broadly envisaged to link all jail inmates under Aadhaar, the initial focus is to bring over 3,500 convicted prisoners, cooling their heels in various state jails, under the 12 digit number, prison department sources said.
Jail authorities have also plans to keep the Aadhaar number of prisoners in their data bank to keep a tab on them even after they complete their term.
The initiative has already been launched in various prisons and as many as 27 prisoners have enrolled for Aadhaar at the Central Prison at Poojappura here last week.
"People from all stratas of society are being linked to Aadhar. Our initiative is envisaged to help prisoners get enroled for Aadhaar," Jail DGP, R Sreelekha told PTI.
Arrangements have been made to provide Aadhaar enrolment facilities within jail premises in particular intervals to cover maximum inmates, she said.
However, the DGP said there is no exact data as of now on the number of prisoners in the state jails, both convicted and undertrials, who have already registered under Aadhaar number.
Under the programme, authorities of each jail would prepare a periodical list of prisoners, who do not have Aadhaar number.
Arrangements would be made to collect their necessary certificates and other documents for the enrolment from their home or school authorities.
It would be verified and certified by jail superintendent in his capacity as the caretaker of prisoners before submitting for Aadhaar enrolment, sources said.
As per the request of jail authorities, a team of officials of the state-run Akshaya Centres in respective areas would visit each prison with biometric fingerprint scanner, camera and other necessary systems to enroll the inmates under Aadhaar.
Though the drive is aimed at bringing all prisoners under Aadhaar, the case of undertrials is an issue, Poojappura Central Prison Superintendent, S Santhosh said.
"Even if we include them also in our list and collect their necessary documents, they may go free before the completion of the enrolment process. So, our main focus is convicted prisoners now," he said.
According to rough figures, there are over 8,000 prisoners in various jails across Kerala at present.
There are 3 central prisons, 11 district jails, 16 sub-jails, 16 special sub-jails, 3 women prisons and 3 open prisons including one for women.