Monday, June 05, 2017

'Attack on RTI activists is on rise in Odisha’

Times of India: Bhubaneswar: Monday, June 05, 2017.
Bapi Jena, 30, of Hantuka village of Puri district had faced wrath of some people of his locality when he sought information from Hantuka Service Cooperative Society through right to information (RTI) act regarding beneficiaries of farm loans.
He alleged that an official of the cooperative society was not happy with him and his friend Susant Jena for seeking information on farm loans. "The officer had engaged two people to attack them. They attacked me with a sharp weapon on May 27. Even police didn't register my complaint," he added.
Another RTI campaigner Bansidhar Nayak, 44, of Dhajhola village under Odagaon police limits in Nayagarh district was attacked by some petty contractors of his area for complaining against their illegal works. They were using excavator and tractors like machines instead of engaging job card holders, he added.
"The anti-socials attacked me, my elder brother, his wife and other family members on May 8 night. They had even chased them till they reach hospital. Police registered case against the accused and arrested four people. But they are out on bail and threatening me," said the campaigner.
Similarly, Aniruddh Sethy of Rajnagar in Kendrapada district and 11 others narrated their ordeals before a panel of experts at a public hearing organised here on Sunday. They said the local leaders of political parties and government officials target them when they expose their wrongdoings.
Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhiyan state convener Pradip Pradhan said 14 campaigners have been attacked in the last two months. The case is rising in the state.
Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner, said the police should register the complaints filed by the campaigners. "Because they expose the corrupt officials, henchmen and local leaders, they are being targeted every time. Police don't even register complaints in several cases," he alleged.
Noted RTI campaigner Anjali Bhardwaj said around 60 campaigners have been killed in the country since the RTI act came. She demanded implementation of the Whistleblowers Protection Act to protect the RTI campaigners and whistleblowers.