RTI activism: A few fearless, good people

An RTI activist was fatally shot in Mumbai, a grim reminder of the grave danger that the crusaders against corruption face. The government must wake up and provide protection to them

rahul

Rahul Dass | October 17, 2016


#Transparency   #governance   #RTI   #RTI Act   #cabinet secretariat   #CIC   #Right to Information  


Bhupendra Vira, a 60-year old RTI activist, was killed in cold blood in Mumbai. His chilling murder shows the severity of threat faced by RTI activists across the country, with those being exposed not hesitating to go to any extent to silence the voice that exposes corruption.

Vira’s RTI applications had targed a former corporator over alleged illegal constructions and he was killed barely hours after a Lokayukta order for demolition of four of the corporator’s properties.

“The government should take strong action over Vira’s killing,” Anjali Damania, who was formerly with the Aam Aadmi Party and has vociferously spoken out against corruption, told Governance Now.

“Vira had in the past sought police protection, which had been provided for sometime but later withdrawn. Enough is enough. The RTI activists should be looked after by the government as they put their lives at stake,” she said.


Read:  RTI --Signs of regressive forces at work


RTI activists have been harassed, assaulted and even bumped off, yet the voice against corruption has only grown stronger over the years. The civil society is acutely aware of the disastrous impact of corruption on the body politic.

Take the case of journalist Sandeep Kothari whose killing in 2015 prompted director-general of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, to urge an investigation. “I condemn the killing of Sandeep Kothari. I call on the authorities to investigate this crime and bring its perpetrators to trial. This is essential for journalists to be able to go on informing public debate for the benefit of Indian society as a whole,” said Bokova.

Kothari had exposed illegal mining and land grabbing in Madhya Pradesh and he used RTI to get information on his subjects. He was beaten, abducted and then burned alive.
 
Read: India ranks 4th on list of countries with strongest RTI laws

RTI activists have been rightly demanding for tightening of the laws and have repeatedly sought protection. The government needs to actively look into the safety of the RTI activists so that those who are risking their lives to take on powerful people do not pay the ultimate price of death.

Even the whistle blowers protection (amendment) bill which provides a mechanism for receiving and inquiring into public interest disclosures against acts of corruption, wilful misuse of power or discretion, or criminal offences by public servants needs to be urgently taken up. The Lok Sabha had passed it on May 13, 2015.

Read:  The Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015


Vira’s killing should be taken as a wake-up call so that people who are doing a good thing for the society are not bumped off. Those who are campaigning against corruption are a rare breed of people who believe that they can make a significant contribution to society by rooting out corruption. They must be protected as they are the ones who are bravely moving ahead despite staring at death.

Read: The RTI Act

Comments

 

Other News

“The focus area is to minimise pendency, do more quality work”

The functioning of a national commission, be it NHRC, NCSC or NCST, depends on its head. Being the chief information commissioner (CIC), what is your vision for CIC?  And what has been your experience so far? The chief information commissioner and ten informa

CIC’s changing status quo

With the help of Right to Information (RTI), the common man not only has the right to know, but also the right to question those in power. This is the foundation of democracy,” said prime minister Narendra Modi at the tenth anniversary celebrations of the Central Information Commission (CIC)

Do you think the fiscal year should be from January to December?

Do you think the fiscal year should be from January to December?

Will Delhi see the highest ever turnout in the upcoming civic polls?

Historically, voter turnout for local elections has lagged behind state assembly elections and general elections.    For example, a recent report by Janaagraha shows that Surat recorded 40 percent voter turnout in local polls, 30 percent less than state elections

Women sensitized about their rights

 A group of women were sensitized about their rights at a workshop held in the national capital on Saturday. They were informed about the anti-harassment laws and legal provisions to safeguard women inside and outside their workplace.   The workshop – organ

AAP’s uncertain future, irony of being Advani, and an author seeks freedom of speech

The Narendra Modi- Arvind Kejriwal antagonism has always been about two different kinds of populism. While it may not play out in a municipal election, the fact remains that a Kejriwal chastened by Goa and Punjab faces a mid-term test in the municipal elections. For a politician harbouring intentions of



Video

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter