A few days back, the government has clarified that Aadhaar is not a must for picking up new SIM cards. Soon after that, telcos hit back at the government saying that they never kept Aadhaar as a must for new issuing new SIMs. But retail stores of telecom operators are still asking Aadhaar card to issue a new SIM card. This news was first reported by TOI as they managed to visit stores of telecom operators in Gurugram. The publication reported that they had visited a total of nine stores: three of Airtel, two of Vodafone, two of Jio stores and various other mobile retailers. And seven out of the nine stores had said Aadhaar as a must for issuing a new SIM card.
Soon after this news broke out, we checked the same in Bengaluru city (Kundalahalli region). We visited a Reliance Digital store first, followed by an Airtel store and Vodafone store, located within 100 metres. While the store executives in Reliance Digital and Vodafone said that the Aadhaar is must for a new SIM card, the Airtel store people were comfortable in issuing a new Airtel SIM card with my Voter ID (along with a supporting local address proof). A couple of days back, we checked the same by approaching a BSNL stall placed in the same area, and the employees of the government-owned PSU were ready to issue a new SIM card without Aadhaar.
These are not some third-party stores, but the exclusive authorised stores of the telcos. It’s understandable that the Aadhaar-based eKYC verification process can get the SIM card activated in a matter of five minutes, while the verification process with other means or ID proof will take up to 24 hours to get the SIM card activated.
But the denying is something which goes against the rules issued by the government. A Vodafone spokesperson told TOI as: “Our service is being ramped up and we will soon reach out to the Vodafone mini stores as well as prominent multi-brand outlets across the city.”
The government very recently blamed telcos for the confusion as they insisted Aadhaar as a must for getting a new SIM card. But the telcos are yet to pass the message of government to their retail stores, which might happen in the next few days.