Attacks on RTI activists in India raise questions over safety measures

Published: 17th January 2013 10:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th January 2013 04:02 PM   |  A+A-

Less than two months after the brutal murder of RTI activist Lingaraju in Bangalore, yet another activist, Vasudeva Adiga from Udupi, was found murdered in Chikmagalur district last Saturday.

 Despite the High Court on December 12 directing the state government (Home Department) to quickly formulate rules and regulations to ensure the safety of RTI activists, the rules are yet to be framed.

 “We have received the notice from HC but the rules are yet to be framed.

 Anything related to the RTI is dealt with by Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) and we have forwarded the court order to the department for action,” Raghavendra Auradkar, Secretary to Home Department, told Express.

 Meanwhile, Principal Secretary to the DPAR Sanji Kumar said he had not received any such intimation from the Home Department.

 “So far, we have not received any such communication from them.

 We will take appropriate action upon receiving it,” he said.

 The data on attacks on RTI activists compiled by National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) paints a grim picture of the situation in Karnataka.

 The scenario is no different across the country.

 Twenty nine RTI activists have been allegedly killed since May 2008, and around 164 cases of assault and harassment of RTI activists have been registered across India.

 In Karnataka, there were three murders since 2009, and six cases of assault against RTI activists have been reported in 2012 alone.

 “These are just the cases which have been highlighted in media.

 Certainly there has been under-reporting of such cases and the unofficial estimates of assault cases will be much higher,” said social activist and NCPRI member Nikhil Dey.

 “Despite all this, the governments are yet to wake up and pass the Whistle-blowers Bill in Parliament.

 This is shocking and the people from all parties should be blamed,” he added.

 

LAW OF THE LAND

The Supreme Court on November 19 had expressed concern over the murders of and attacks on RTI activists and whistle-blowers. It said the state governments were responsible for their security and safety. "Law and order is a state subject. It is for the state governments to take action. We can not issue guidelines," said the bench.

RTI Act: Contains no provisions for the security/safety of the whistle-blower.

Whistle-blower Bill: Yet to be cleared by the Rajya Sabha despite being passed by Lok Sabha in 2011.

 

RECENT ATTACKS ON RTI ACTIVISTS

December 30, 2012: Some unidentified men forcibly administered a poisonous injection to RTI activist Srinivasa Rao in Markapuram in Andhra Pradesh.

October 25, 2012: RTI activist Ramesh Agrawal alleged that contract killers were hired to kill him as he was proving a hindrance to Jindal Steel and Power Ltd's plans in Raigarh in MP.

May 20, 2012: KAS officer Mahantesh who had exposed illegal allotment of sites in the city was murdered in Bangalore.

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