Denouncing the death of Gujarat’s Right to Information (RTI) activist, Amit Jethwa, on July 20, Delhi’s RTI fraternity has decided to hold a protest rally on Monday to call for strict implementation of laws to protect whistleblowers.
Jethwa, who exposed the mining mafia via the RTI, was shot in Ahmedabad on July 20 near the Gujarat High Court.
In March, activist Mohit Sharma, a Dilshad Garden resident, had alleged that two MCD officers had threatened to murder him for having sought information under the RTI Act in connection with certain illegal construction in Shahdara (North) zone.
Initially, the police had refused to lodge an FIR, but media pressure ensured that an FIR was lodged and the officials concerned were punished.
In the first week of July, Hindustan Times had written about how the Central Information Commission (CIC) has admitted that it neither has any mechanism in place nor any guideline to safeguard the interests of such RTI activists.
Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah had explained that there was no necessity for any guidelines.
Magsaysay award winner RTI activist Arvind Kejariwal points out, “Police and the Anti Corruption Branch are two agencies where an RTI activist does not get justice because these two are influenced by political executives. There is a need of an independent agency.”
But is there no other way? Ritu Mehra and her team from NGO Pardarshita, who have helped hundreds of economically weaker people get relief with the help of RTI, have found a way to deal with threats.
The NGO has helped at least 150 people from Bawana file applications under the RTI to find out the status of their ration cards.
“It always helps if a large number of people file RTIs in sensitive matters that helps in threat division. We believe in involving in the people. Ultimately, it is their money that is being defrauded,” Mehra said.