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Order audit RTI info sought by Gujarat Dalit activist attacked by goons: Letter to Rupani

Amit Parmar in hospital
Counterview Desk
The National Campaign for Peoples Right to Information (NCPRI) has asked Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani to conduct "a thorough, timely and effective investigation" into the attack on Dalit Right to Information (RTI) activist Amit Parmar and his brother in Botad town, 150 km south-west of Ahmedabad.
Brutally attacked with iron rods by four unidentified assailants, allegedly at the behest of the family of the sarpanch when he and his brother were travelling on motorbike around 2:30 pm on November 24, 2019, Parmar was immediately rushed to the Bhavnagar Civil Hospital where he is currently receiving treatment for multiple fractures on his legs and hands.
Parmar had filed an RTI application seeking information from the government regarding the amount received and details of spending by the sarpanch under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awaas Yojana/Indira Housing Scheme in the past 20 years, for which he had received threats.
Asking Rupani to ensure "appropriate orders to conduct a special audit as per the procedure laid down for all programmes/schemes of the Ministry of Rural Development", NCPRI has urged him to immediately direct the concerned public authorities to disclose all the information sought by Parmar 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 Shaikh, a copy of the letter has been sent to thr State Chief Information Commissioner of the Gujarat Information Commission and the DGP of Gujarat.

Text:

The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI) is gravely concerned about the reported life-threatening attack on young Dalit RTI activist Amit Parmar, aged 27, in Khopala village, Botab, Gujarat. According to media reports and copy of the First Information Report (FIR) filed by Parmar, he was brutally attacked by four unidentified assailants at the behest of the family of the Sarpanch when he and his brother were travelling on motorbike around 2:30 pm on November 24, 2019.
The assailants allegedly attacked Parmar with iron rods and roughed up his older brother. Amit Parmar was immediately rushed to Bhavnagar Civil Hospital where he is currently receiving treatment for multiple fractures on his legs and hands.
Parmar had filed an RTI application earlier this month seeking information from the government regarding the amount received and details of spending by the sarpanch under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awaas Yojana/Indira Housing Scheme in the past 20 years.
Prior to the attack Parmar had also received threats and had been pressurized by the family of the sarpanch to withdraw the application. Parmar had also previously actively campaigned against the illegal plantation of cotton and mango saplings in the pastoral land of the village by the sarpanch.
NCPRI strongly condemns this attack and demands that the Gujarat government conduct a thorough, timely and effective investigation into the attack on Parmar and his brother. The NCPRI also urges the state government to immediately direct the concerned public authorities to disclose all the information sought by Parmar and give it wide publicity, which could act as a deterrent against such attacks in the future.
Further, we urge the state government to issue appropriate orders to conduct a special audit as per the procedure laid down in the Standard Operating Procedure for operationalizing provisions of Section 27 (2) of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) circulated by the Ministry of Rural D evelopment, applicable to all programmes/schemes of the Ministry of Rural Development.
This would further help in promoting accountability and transparency at the grassroots level and disseminate the message that violence against RTI activist will not fail to stop enquiries and public monitoring.
The rising numbers of attacks and murders of RTI activists across the country and especially in the state of Gujarat are extremely concerning. In June earlier this year, Rajesh Sondarva, son of slain RTI activist Nanjibhai Sondarva was killed in Rajkot district, Gujarat.
We urge the state government to push for the effective implementation of Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, which provides important provision for protection for people who expose corruption and wrongdoing and safeguards against their victimization.

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