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J&K RTI Act: Headless and Heedless
Ayaz Mughal9/7/2010 10:31:34 PM
Beware! You have to put your life at risk if you intend to know the accountability of Govt. You have to gird up the loins to defend yourself from attackers. Someone could be following you. Be careful! You must be at someone’s target. Surprised! It is not the war but nothing less than a war. Unmasking the truth by publicizing the nitty-gritty of Govt. is like playing with fire and flames. The venal, nefarious and perfidious politicians and bureaucrats involved in clandestine, fear their malafide intentions to be exposed.
A fews weeks ago, on 20 July Amit Jethwa (33) was shot dead outside the Gujrat High Court. Vishram Laxman Dodyia(50), a surat based shopkeeper was found murdered after meeting with company officials on 11 Feb. Shashidar Mishra of Bihar was shot dead by unidentified Gunman on motorcycle while he was entering his home on 14 Feb. Satish Shetty(39) was on his way to morning walk and was attacked with swords and sharp weapons and murdered. Vithal Gite(39), a farmer and a flourmill owner of Maharashtra, Dta Patil of Kohlapur district and Sola Ranga Rao(30) of Krishna disrtict Andhara Pradesh were killed at different spots by unidentified persons. But the motives behind this are identified as all of them were RTI activist and had blown the whistle on different scams and corruption by government employees through RTI.
Amit Jethwa of Khamba village was coming out of a building after meeting his lawyer when he was fired upon by unidentified persons. He has been an active crusader against the illegal mining in the Gir forest. Satish Shetty had exposed many land scams in and around Talegaon, besides the setting up of restaurants and marriage halls in residential zones, selling in the black market of kerosene meant for distribution through ration shops, etc. This point the needle of doubt towards the unscrupulous employees involved in the scam. They saw themselves being trapped and brutally snatched the precious lives.
Apart from the murders, several murderous attacks have been attempted on different RTI activists at different parts of the country. Abhay patil of Jalgaon district, Maharashtra,Sumaira Abdulali & Naseer Jalal, and TOI Journalists, Maharashtra, Murderous assault on Ajay Kumar & colleague, Priyanka Borpujari & other Mumbai journalists assaulted by locals and police at Dantewade, Chhatiisgarh, followed by FIR, firing outside Nayana Kathpalia’s house, Mumbai and many more were attacked, threatened and harassed for exposing the truth. Fortunately, they survived the attacks but the intentions of the assailants were crystal clear. They want to stifle the voice of truth They don’t want RTI to be successful. The success of RTI is the fallout of the corrupt and selfish politicians and bureaucrats. How long one can hide the truth? Truth comes to limelight on one day. According to the Holy Quran 17:81 “"The truth has prevailed, and falsehood has vanished; falsehood will inevitably vanish”.
Dr Muzaffar Bhat, Convener of J&K Right to Information Movement and 8 other colleagues who had organized an RTI awareness programme in Branwar had all the tyres of their vehicle punctured during their overnight stay in that town. After they had their tyres repaired in nearby Chadoora market, they were murderously assaulted by a mob of 20 persons, and rescued in the nick of time by CRP and police personnel. However, when the activists complained to the police, the police booked them instead, based on motivated charges leveled by Rashida Begum w/o Chaudhury Saifuddin of Branwar, who is also Halqa President and affiliated with the National Conference in the area. The activists were booked for rioting and house trespass, assault and theft (stealing gold ornaments) in FIR No. 42 of 2010 registered at Chadoora Police Station. The assailants are enjoying the impunity with the support of politicians and bureaucrats.
The issue of security of information seeker is equally important as that of appointment of SIC of J&K RTI. The perennial issue of appointment of SIC is in the Court of Law. The final hope of the people of the state lies with Court of Justice. After loosing hopes over the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, a citizen realizing his responsibility and the importance of SIC, knocked the doors of Court of Justice. The state has been dragging its feet to respond to court orders till date. Commission is meaningless until the appointment of SIC. It is worthy of note that Information Commission which is meant for providing the information within 30 days fails to find its head on one side and the govt. is mute about the reason for this failure.
The RTI without SIC is body without soul and RTI Activist without security is like a soldier without bulletproof jacket. On one side RTI gives us the weapon to combat the corruption but on the other a sword is hanging over the heads. J&K state clichés the second rank in the list of most corrupt states in the country. It’s the $64,000 question for the J&K government about the law for the protection of the whistleblower. Currently there is no such law. The Government must have a close contemplation over the matter of precious lives of the RTI activist or whistle blower in the state. J&K RTI is going to turn the state into the battle field between the corrupt employees and the RTI activists. If the state did not show the concern, it would end up dragging down image of the Government.
Both SIC and Protective laws will collectively ensure the smooth implementation of the J&K RTI act else it would be a feckless, dysfunctional and impractical efforts running though the papers only. The government has to prove itself as stringent and genuinely concerned about the security of the whistleblower. The government must frame the laws in order to ensure the immunity of the information seeker from wraths of corrupt employees, bureaucrats and politicians.
Last but not the least, the center govt. must probe into the murders and attacks on the RTI activists and whistle-blowers at different parts of the country else it would encourage the culprits repeat such heinous acts in future. The RTI activists are soldiers who combat the internal enemies of the society with the weapons of RTI Act but they are not sure where they will meet the ill fate.
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