Sadashiv Kori, a 30-year-old Dalit from Ragul Madhavpur village in Banda district (Uttar Pradesh) was first threatened and then beaten by the local ration shop owner.
All Kori had done was to try taking the help of Right to Information (RTI) to know how much food grain was distributed against his brother’s Antyodaya card in the last five years.
“From 2001 to 2005, not a single Antyodaya card holder had received ration. It was the RTI activists who showed us the way in 2005,” Kori told a meeting here on Sunday.
“I first applied under RTI for the information regarding the actual distribution under my brother’s card. Immediately they threatened me.”
Undeterred, Kori continued his fight and won. He not only succeeded in getting the shop owner’s license cancelled but also ensured that all 489 Antyodaya card holders get their ration every year.
Kori was sharing his success story with RTI users — from UP and Bihar — and activists from as many as nine states in a national convention on RTI.
The convention — ‘Right to Know as Right to Live Citizens’ Voices’ — was organised jointly by UNDP and Kabir, an NGO working for raising awareness about the benefits of the RTI Act.
Information Commissioners from four states were also present on the occasion.
Bhanmati Devi (65), a labourer from Nayi Basti Tidhia, a small village on the Indo-Nepal border in Uttar Pradesh's Bahraich district also had an experience to narrate.
“We were first denied ration cards. It was a process full of struggle... Once we received our cards then began the battle to actually get food grains entitled by it,” she said.
“The RTI Act came to our help. Fifty-four of us filed simultaneous applications on the same issue and within two months, we started getting ration.”
The story was in line with what Chief Information Commission Wajahat Habibullah had expressed earlier in the day during the convention’s inauguration.
“I feel happy when the RTI act is used for ensuring such essentials for a poor man rather than some large corruption exposure.”
Manish Sisodia from Kabir explained the concept behind holding the day-long convention, “The government is organising a three-day meeting on the occasion of RTI Act anniversary. Commissioners and other government officers have been invited.
(But) we think the voice of the citizens is necessary to be heard. Many officials from here would be attending the government meeting, so they can take the inputs from here."