The last two years of Akhil Gogoi’s life have been spent ‘underground’. He is not a member of a militant group in the North-East. He keeps his whereabouts secret to protect himself from politicians, contractors, policemen and goons who his relentless war against corruption has annoyed.
Hailing from Assam’s Jorhat district, the 32-year-old has been an activist from his college days. But he came to be really hated by the powerful ever since his NGO, the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, filed Right To Information (RTI) applications in March 2006 seeking clarity on developmental schemes in neighbouring Golaghat district.
His persistence forced the authorities to acknowledge that large sums allocated for these projects had been siphoned off. The project director and accountant of Golaghat’s District Rural Development Agency were arrested and the entire staff transferred.
With similar RTI applications, Gogoi then established that 90 to 95 per cent of the rice supposed to be sold under Assam’s public distribution system was being black-marketed. How does he make a living? “I live off my wife, a college lecturer,” he replied, with disarming frankness.
If you know someone working towards upholding integrity in public life, nominate the person for the ‘The Manjunath Shanmugam Integrity Award’.
www.manjunathshanmugamtrust.org for details.