No duplicate keys without Aadhaar in Ongole

Keymakers don’t want to invite trouble by helping thieves unwittingly

The Aadhaar card may not be mandatory for availing many governmental and non-governmental services, as ruled by the Supreme Court. But in Ongole, anyone who has misplaced or lost keys to locks has to compulsorily possess an Aadhaar card. Wiser after some bad experiences, keymakers here are demanding the production of the 12-digit unique identity number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) before they set to work on key blanks to create duplicates for the locks of mopeds, scooters, motorbikes, doors, drawers and cupboards.

It requires expertise to make keys for a variety of locks, including padlocks, deadbolts and knob locks. Only experienced keymakers can cut keys even when the duplicate is unavailable,” says Sk.Imran taking time from his busy day to talk to The Hindu.

“Unsuspectingly, we made locks in the past for some persons who came to us towing their two-wheelers, saying that they had lost their motorcycle keys. We were shocked when we were summoned to the police station on the pretext of an inquiry. We were allowed to go after a stern warning from the police officers,” explains another keymaker Alla Baksh, holding a bunch of old keys and sets of key blanks which can be cut to different shapes according to the requirement.

“People mostly come to us for making duplicate keys to open the locks of, among other things, two-wheelers and almirahs,” says Mohamad Pathan, who has been making duplicate keys for a living for more than 30 years.

Necessary precautions

“We avoid making keys for jewellery lockers for all and sundry. We also don’t go to the customer’s place as we land in trouble in case any thefts happen in the future,” adds Sk. Jilani, who has several files for cutting and shaping keys.

Depending on the complexity of lock, the keymakers charge between Rs.100 to Rs.200 for making each duplicate. They can easily earn up to Rs. 1,000 per day, says Sk.Basha, who purchases his key blanks from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh, home to a thriving lock industry.

Ongole Deputy Superintendent of Police G. Srinivasa Rao suggests that vehicle owners should go to the automobile’s authorised service centre for replacing the lock instead of creating duplicates via keymakers. “Keymakers have been told not to make duplicate keys if they suspect the credentials of persons approaching them,” he adds.