Skip to main content

RTI activist's murder: Odisha CM urged to pressure Centre, effect Whistleblowers Act

Naveen Patnaik
Counterview Desk
The National Campaign for Peoples Right to Information (NCPRI), in a letter to Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, has sought "a thorough, timely and effective investigation" into the murder of Right to Information (RTI) activist Abhimanyu Panda, who was shot outside his house in Kandhamal on December 10, 2019 at 7:30am by two unidentified assailants.
Pointing out that Panda had "exposed multiple cases of corruption and misappropriation of funds via information obtained under the RTI Act", NCPRI, which is the apex body of several civil society organizations fighting for RTI, said, the state government should "immediately direct the concerned public authorities to disclose all the information sought by Panda and give it wide publicity, which could act as a deterrent against such attacks in the future.
Signed, among others, by Anjali Bhardwaj, Pankti Jog, Nikhil Dey, Venkatesh Nayak, Rakesh Dubbudu, Pradip Pradhan and Dr Ghulam Rasool Shaikh, a copy of the letter has been sent to the State Chief Information Commissioner of the Odisha Information Commission and the Odisha director general of police.

Text:

The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI) is gravely concerned about the reported murder of RTI activist and leader of an anti-liquor movement, Abhimanyu Panda, in Kandhamal, Odisha. As per media reports  and a fact finding  conducted by the Odisha Soochna Adhikar Abhiyan, Panda, was shot outside his house in Patra Sahi, Kandhamal at 7:30am by two unidentified assailants on December 10, 2019.
Panda, a former sarpanch of Bataguda gram panchayat, was a well know activist in Kandhamal district and had filed numerous RTI applications on a wide variety of issues. According to the fact finding conducted by Odisha Soochna Adhikar Abhiyan, Panda had exposed multiple cases of corruption and misappropriation of funds via information obtained under the RTI Act.
Some of the RTI applications filed by Panda had helped expose corruption, including a construction scam in Sarangagada college and misappropriation of funds in the construction of roads. He had also recently filed RTI applications to several gram panchayats in Kandhamal district to unearth corruption in the distribution of rice under the public distribution system (PDS).
Panda had frequently received threats due to his work as an RTI activist and for using the RTI Act
According to media reports, Panda had frequently received threats due to his work as an RTI activist and for using the RTI Act to obtain information from, and expose corruption in, various government departments.
NCPRI strongly condemns this horrific murder and demands that the Odisha government conduct a thorough, timely and effective investigation into the death of Abhimanyu Panda. NCPRI also urges the state government to immediately direct the concerned public authorities to disclose all information sought by him suo motu, in accordance with the provisions of the RTI Act. This will ensure that all information sought by Panda is widely publicized and would act as a deterrent against such attacks in the future.
Furthermore, given the alarming increase in the number of attacks and instances of death of RTI activists across the country, it is critical that the state government push for effective implementation of the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act by the Central government. The law provides important safeguards against victimization and protection to whistleblowers who expose corruption and wrongdoing.

Comments

TRENDING

August 22 to be observed as Apostasy Day: International coalition of ex-Muslim groups

By Our Representative
In a unique move, an international coalition of ex-Muslim organisations has decided to observe August 22, 2020 as the Apostasy Day. To be observed for “the abandonment or renunciation of religion”, the coalition, calling upon people to join the call, said, the decision to observe the Apostasy Day has been taken because of apostasy is “punishable by death in Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, UAE, and Yemen.”

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

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".

RSS' 25,000 Shishu Mandirs 'follow' factory school model of Christian missionaries

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) recently decided to drop the KISS University in Odisha as the co-host of the World Anthropology Congress-2023. The decision is driven by the argument that KISS University is a factory school.

India must recognise: 4,085 km Himalayan borders are with Tibet, not China

By Tenzin Tsundue, Sandeep Pandey*
There has as been a cancerous wound around India’s Himalayan neck ever since India's humiliating defeat during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962. The recent Galwan Valley massacre has only added salt to the wound. It has come to this because, when China invaded the neighbouring country Tibet in 1950, India was in high romance with the newly-established communist regime under Mao Zedong after a bloody revolution.

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.

Time to give Covid burial, not suspend, World Bank's 'flawed' Doing Business ranking

By Maju Varghese*
On August 27, the World Bank came out with a statement suspending the Doing Business Report. The statement said that a number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.

Delhi riots: Cops summoning, grilling, intimidating young to give 'false' evidence

Counterview Desk
More than 440 concerned citizens have supported the statement issued by well-known bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander ‘We will not be silenced’ which said that the communal riots in Delhi in February 2020 have not been caused by any conspiracy, as alleged by the Delhi Police, but by “hate speech and provocative statements made by a number of political leaders of the ruling party.”

WHO chief ignores India, cites Pak as one of 7 top examples in fight against Covid-19

By Our Representative
In a move that would cause consternation in India’s top policy makers in the Modi government, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, has singled out Pakistan among seven countries that have set “examples” in investing in a healthier and safer future in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tata Mundra: NGOs worry as US court rules World Bank can't be sued for 'damages'

By Kate Fried, Mir Jalal*
On August 24 evening, a federal court ruled that the World Bank Group cannot be sued for any damage caused by its lending, despite last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the same case that these institutions can be sued for their “commercial activity” in the United States.