There have been 213 instances of violence and harassment against Right to Information activists in Bihar prior to now decade with no action taken on the 21 instances filed within the final two years, an activist has stated citing an RTI reply.
Nagrik Adhikar Manch convenor and main RTI activist Shiv Prakash Rai, 55, who has filed over 500 queries because the Act got here into being, informed The Indian Express: “When I sought information of the status of cases against activists, I was told that 184 of 213 cases have been disposed of. But I was not told what action was taken against officials and people responsible for harassing them.”
Most of the 21 instances, lodged between February 2018 and September, are associated to panchayat-level schemes, paddy procurement by Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS), MNREGS and appointment of main and secondary college lecturers. Also, since 2008, 17 RTI activists have been killed, stated Rai, citing info acquired from the state Home Department.
As per a Home Department order, all instances of atrocities against RTI activists have to be disposed of inside a month and an SP should a glance into every matter. The order had stated that if there’s a criticism against the SP, the Inspector-General of Police should look into it.
A case filed by Rai is among the many pending ones. The activist, who had complained against the Buxar SP for allegedly “misbehaving” with him in 2017, stated that even after the matter reached the DGP’s stage, no action had been taken.
Another pending case is that of 70-year-old Girish Gupta of Begusarai, allegedly overwhelmed by block-level staff in May 2020. Gupta stated: “I was badly beaten up by government employees at my home during lockdown. Even though I can barely walk because of geriatric problems, I faced a case of lockdown violation. Local cops and officers were incensed at my RTI query on whether they mention expenses of ads they get published on their birthdays in their IT returns.”
In a case which had made headlines, a Buxar RTI activist’s minor son was charged below the Arms Act and put contained in the adults’ jail in February as a result of the daddy had sought particulars on paddy buy by PACS within the final eight years. The minor was launched on bail after The Indian Express revealed a report on this in September.
Bihar Additional Secretary (Home) Amir Subhani informed The Indian Express: “Now that pending RTI cases have been brought to my notice, the department will look into it”.