Skip to main content

Modi government "turns" pro-activist, seeks data on attacks on whisleblowers, social workers, mediapersons

By Our Representative
In a surprise move, the Government of India has initiated the exercise of collecting data on attacks on whistleblowers, mediapersons, social workers and right to information (RTI) activists from across the country. This, it is learnt, is in response Parliamentarians’ frequent plea for the number of attacks on RTI activists.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), operating the Ministry of Home Affairs, has circulated a new template to all states, Union territories and cities for capturing statistics relating to the occurrence of such. The data is to be collected under the crime-head “Grievous Hurt of Varying Degrees”, which are recognised in Sections 325, 326, 326A and 326B of the Indian Penal Code.
While welcoming the decision to collect data, Venkatesh Nayak, a well-known RTI activist with the Commonweath Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Delhi, has said that till now the only source where information about attacks on RTI activists was the dedicated Wikipedia page (click HERE) and CHRI.
However, Nayak believes, the fresh official efforts to collect data about the attacks has some “technical problems.” Thus, when an RTI activist/ social activist, mediaperson or whistleblower is murdered, the case is counted under the crime head murder (Section 302) at para #1 of the template.
“So to be counted separately these activists, whistleblowers and mediapersons will have to ensure that they survive the attack. If not, the deceased will be counted in the larger category of 'murders' which gives no breakups regarding the identity of victims”, Nayak says.
Nayak wonders if a first time user of RTI who is attacked (and survives) for his/her intervention under para #20 would be treated as an RTI/social activist is a moot question.
“The recent instance of the alleged murder of an RTI user who filed his first RTI application to inquire about police action against a suspected bootlegger in Gujarat (click HERE) may not even qualify for inclusion in this category”, he says.
“The cop at the police station who is in charge of supplying such data on a monthly basis to the NCRB will wield a lot of discretion in counting such numbers unless the template is refined further to reflect all attacks -- murderous and grievous ones -- separately for RTI users/activists, social activists, mediapersons and whistleblowers”, Nayak adds.
Then, says Nayak, “An internal whistleblower, an employee of a government office, may not be able to get a complaint registered by the police without adequate support from sympathisers or influential people.” In fact, he adds, there isn’t “enough data” on how many internal whistleblowers have been attacked and reported to the police till date.
Referring to the Vyapam scandal in Madhya Pradesh in this context, Nayak says, it has “opened only a peephole into this macabre tradition (and not merely phenomenon) of silencing those who speak the truth.”
Further, Nayak says, at a time when the Government of India (GoI) is seeking to come up with some “retrograde” amendments to the Whistleblowers Protection Act (WBP), 2014 instead of implementing it, it is difficult to say “who will the police official responsible for sending the data to NCRB, recognise as a whistleblower.”

Comments

TRENDING

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Church in India 'seems to have lost' moral compass of unequivocal support to the poor

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
In 2017, Pope Francis dedicated a special day, to be observed by the Universal Church, every year, as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year it will be observed on November 17 on the theme ‘The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever’; in a message for the day Pope Francis says:

There may have been Buddhist stupa at Babri site during Gupta period: Archeologist

By Rajiv Shah
A top-notch archeologist, Prof Supriya Varma, who served as an observer during the excavation of the Babri Masjid site in early 2000s along with another archeologist, Jaya Menon, has controversially stated that not only was there "no temple under the Babri Masjid”, if one goes “beyond” the 12th century to 4th to 6th century, i.e. the Gupta period, “there seems to be a Buddhist stupa.”

As fear 'grips' right liberals, Arvind Panagariya, too, would be declared anti-national?

By Rajiv Shah
It is surely well-known by now that India's top people in the power-that-be have been castigating all those who disagree with them as "anti-nationals". Nothing unusual. If till yesterday only "secular liberals", and "left-liberals" were declared anti-national, facts, however, appear to have begun surfacing that, now, guns are being trained against those who could be qualified as right liberals, too. Let me be specific.

'First time' since 1970s poverty up 10%, consumer spending down 4%: GoI survey

By Our Representative
In what may prove to be a major embarrassment for the Government of India (GoI), a new official survey, carried out in 207-18, has reportedly said that average consumer spending in India fell by more than 4% the previous six years "primarily driven by slackening rural demand." The survey, "Key Indicators: Household Consumer Expenditure in India”, carried out by the National Statistical Office (NSO), says that money spent per person in a month fell by 3.7% from Rs 1,501 in 2011-12 to Rs 1,446 in 2017-18.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

National award winning film 'Hellaro' co-produced by three chartered accountants

By Our Representative
“Hellaro”, a Gujarati feature film produced by Saarthi Productions in association with Harfanmaula Films (Ahmedabad) was declared as the Best Feature Film at the National Film Awards which was conferred by the Government of India. The film also won the Special Jury Award for the Best Actress to all the 13 actresses of the film.
Ashish Patel produced the movie, which has been co-produced three co-producers, Aayush Patel, Prateek Gupta and Mit Jani, all of whom, interestingly, started their filmmaking journey after becoming Chartered Accountants in 2012.
“Hellaro” is directed by Abhishek Shah, who has been working in Gujarati theatre since the past 17 years as writer, director and actor and has received numerous awards for his plays. He has also worked as a casting director for 12 films.
“Hellaro” is a period drama based in Kutch and has been co-written by Abhishek Shah and Prateek Gupta. Gupta previously received the Best Debut Director Award, along with Mit Jan…