The winners of the National RTI awards were felicitated on Thursday at a ceremony at Nehru Museum and Library. The ceremony was attended by hundreds of RTI activists from across the country.
Among those felicitated in Best RTI Citizen category was Vinita Kamte, the wife of Ashok Kamte, one of the three police officers who died during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Other winners in this category were Manoj Kumar Karwasra and Ramesh Kumar Verma from Haryana, Rajan Savlo Ghate from Goa and Athar Shamsi from Uttar Pradesh.
Kamte got the award for digging out documents through RTI that proved that it was the inefficiency and ill-preparedness of the government which led to her husband’s death.
“I thought being the wife of Ashok Kamte, it would be easy to get the necessary information from the Mumbai Police. But I faced hurdles at every step and it took me 14 months to get the information I wanted,” said Kamte, recalling her ordeal.
These winners had been shortlisted from 726 applications received by the Public Cause Research Foundation, an organization set by Magsaysay awardee Arvind Kejriwal. The jury included Narayana Murthy, Justice JS Verma, Madhu Trehan, and JM Lyngdoh.
Family members of eight RTI activists who were killed — Amit Jethwa, Satish Shetty, Datta Patil, Sola Ranga Rao, Sashidhar Mishra, Vishram Laxman Dodiya, Lalit Kumar Mehta and Kameshwar Yadav — were also felicitated at the ceremony. Many of them broke down as they narrated the story of how their family members were killed. Speaking at the ceremony, former IPS officer Kiran Bedi stressed the need for financially securing the families of RTI activities through a corpus.
The Best RTI Journalist Award went to Saikat Dutta of Outlook for exposing the R2,500 crore rice scam. Special Awards were given to TV programmes “Jaanne Ka Haq” (DD National), “Eenadu Mundhadugu” (Eenadu), Gujarat Helpline, Simprit Singh for exposing the Adarsh Housing Scam.