Whistle Blowers Protection Act in Odisha demanded after increase in attack on Odisha RTI activists
In a letter to the Chief Minister, they said RTI activists who lose their lives should be seen as whistle blowers and human right defenders and their families should receive support and compensation.
BHUBANESWAR: As many as 18 former civil servants have called upon Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to pass and bring the Whistle Blowers Protection Act into effect immediately in view of the increase in the number of attacks and murders of RTI activists in Odisha over the years. In a letter to the Chief Minister, they said RTI activists who lose their lives should be seen as whistle blowers and human right defenders and their families should receive support and compensation.
“The recent murder of RTI activist Ranjan Kumar Das, who was a member of Odisha Jana Suchana Adhikar Abhijan of Talasanga village in Kendrapara district, on January 31 in suspicious circumstances is appalling,” they said and added that Odisha has increasingly become one of the most dangerous spaces for RTI users.
Condemning the brutal killing, the former civil servants said Ranjan had been seeking information related to illegal sand quarries and brick kilns and obtained information about the corrupt practices of local officials and NGOs under RTI.
“Two years ago, he had exposed the illegal construction of a resort by OTDC in Bhitarkanika National Park,” they said and added, “Ranjan had also brought to light the misappropriation of `25 lakh that the ICZM allotted to an NGO in the area.”
The murder of Ranjan follows the death of RTI activist Abhimanyu Pandya in Kandhamal in December, 2019 in equally suspicious circumstances.
Those who signed the letter include Aruna Roy, Harsh Mander, Sundar Burra, Madhu Bhaduri, Chandrasekhar Balakrishnan, Nitin Desai, MG Devasahayam, Meena Gupta, Ashok Kumar Sharma, NC Saxena, KP Fabian, Meeran C Borwankar, Ramani Venkatesan, Vibha Puri Das, Keshav Desiraju, Aditi Mehta, Deb Mukharji and Aurobindo Behera.