Three women and their families from a tribal village in Meghalaya were ostracised by the village council for unearthing a rural job scam involving the village headman by using the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The women — Fatima Mynsong, Acquiline Songthiang and Matilda Suting — and their kin had filed an RTI in October 2008 after they found several anomalies in the implementation of the National Rural Employment Scheme.
The information they got exposed the involvement of village headman Karmelin Rynjah in the scam.
But the Dorbar Shnong (traditional village council) of Jongksha village in East Khasi Hills district, around 115 km from here, retaliated by excommunicating the women and their families on August 12.
The decision was taken because the women filed an RTI against the village headman.
Rynjah defended the decision saying it was taken by a majority of Dorbar's members.
On Tuesday, the families told mediapersons in Shillong that they were now deprived of routine rations supplies and denied their right to claim benefits from the local anganwadi.
The families were also not allowed to travel in the village public transport system and no villager was allowed to maintain contact with them.
The trio had filed the application to the District Rural Development Agency for records relating to construction of roads around Jongksha village.
"We found several anomalies in the implementation of work under the scheme. So we filed an RTI," Mynsong said.
The RTI findings revealed that the village headman Rynjah, who was also the chairman of NREGS projects in the village, forged signatures on job cards of villagers and kept them with him illegally.
Acting on the RTI findings, the Community and Rural Development Department conducted an inquiry in May last year.
The victims have approached the Meghalaya Right to Information Movement, a NGO, for help.