Skip to main content

Disclose RTI info sought by murdered Pune activist, it was about poor civic services, not Modi's trips abroad: CHRI

By Our Representative
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an influential Delhi-based advocacy group, has demanded that the Maharashtra’s Right to Information (RTI) watchdog, State Information Commission, must order disclosure of all information sought by RTI activist Suhas Haldankar of Pimpri-Chichwad, Pune district, murdered on April 2, and put all of it in public domain.
CHRI’s RTI coordinator Venkatesh Nayak says, this is particularly important because “Halkankar did not ask information about purchase of fighter aircrafts or what India was promising the visiting Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and Australia. He was highlighting the poor state of the civic administration in his area.”
The second murder of an RTI activist in Maharashtra in 2017 and the third under the present state government, it comes amidst Government of India (GoI) proposing an amendment in the RTI Rules proposed which authorizes the Central Information Commission (CIC) to close a case upon the death of the applicant.
Draft RTI Rule 12 also proposes to allow those seeking information under RTI to withdraw their application, leading RTI activists to wonder whether, taking advantage of this loophole, those seeking to expose corruption or maladministration would be threatened into withdrawing their appeals.
Comments Nayak, “If Haldankar had fallen for the candies they offered or given in to their intimidatory tactics, he might have withdrawn his RTI applications and appeals.”
With 16 such incidents reported since 2010 (including the latest case), Maharashtra tops the list of states with the highest number of citizens murdered for using RTI to demand transparency and accountability in governance. A total of 66 RTI activists have been killed nationwide since the Act came into place in 2005.
According to CHRI, 34 RTI activists in Maharashtra “have survived physical assaults, while at least 38 other incidents of harassment or threats to RTI activists have been reported in the media since October 2005. CHRI has documented attacks on RTI activists on its website, Hall of Shame, mapping each of them on a Google Map.
Sharply criticizing the RTI draft rules, Nayak says, if these are passed, “all RTI applications and appeals that may have filed by Haldankar with Central public authorities would abate automatically on his death.”
Also taking exception to the Union Minister for Personnel and Public Grievances, the nodal Ministry for implementing RTI Act, for seeking to undermine the criticism of the draft rules as "lack of understanding of what the entire issue is all about", Nayak says, “Of course people without formal training in law will not understand the hair-splitting arguments about RTI Rules, Regulations and Guidelines.”
Simultaneously asking the GoI to “stop dragging its feet on implementing the Whistleblower Protection Act”, CHRI in its statement said, it should “include provisions in the law to protecting RTI activists and RTI applicants from harm.”
Also seeking National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) intervention into the gruesome murder of the RTI activist, CHRI said, Haldankar was “battered to death with cement blocks allegedly by a group of 11 persons in the Pimpri-Chinchwad area of Pune.”
At least one of the accused is said to be a former corporator belonging to the Indian National Congress.

Comments

TRENDING

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Gross 'injustice' to children: Rs 5000 cr cut in education budget; 15 lakh schools shut down

Counterview Desk  More than 100 dignitaries, including educationists, academia, social activists, teachers’ union, civil society organisations (CSOs), various networks and people working on child rights, in a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have sought reversal of reduction in allocation for education in the Union Budget 2021-22, even as demanding substantial increase in it.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

India's draft migrants policy: Whither concern on job restrictions imposed by states?

By Anil Kumar*  India’s Niti Aayog has prepared a Draft Migration Policy. The draft policy acknowledges migration as an integral part of development, and it calls for positive government interventions that facilitate internal migration. With a rights-based solution to migration, the draft states that the policy should “enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.

Gujarat religious freedom amendment bill 'pursues' votebank politics, is anti-minority

Gujarat home minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja  By Our Representative  A Gujarat-based minority rights organisation, taking strong exception to the state assembly last week passing the Gujarat Religious Freedom (Amendment) Bill, 2021, has asserted that the proposed law “is completely unconstitutional”, even as asking the Gujarat governor to give his accent to it.

Anti-untouchability move? Dalits to 'mint' brass coin to be laid beneath new Parliament

By Rajiv Shah Gujarat’s top Dalit rights organisation, Navsarjan Trust, is all set to initiate a unique campaign under which families from different parts of the country will contribute a brass article or a utensil -- all of it will be melted and minted into a 1111 milligram diameter coin with the question engraved on it: Will the 1947 dream of untouchability-free India be reality yin 2047?