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Info warrior wins first battle

india Updated: Jan 04, 2011 01:45 IST
Yogesh Joshi
Yogesh Joshi
Hindustan Times
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A day after Right to Information (RTI) activist Arun Mane was attacked, state Information Commissioner (Pune) Vijay Kuwalekar asked government departments to make available the information sought by murdered RTI activist Satish Shetty.

Shetty, a close friend of Mane’s, was murdered on January 13 last year after he sought information about illegal land deals in Pune. After Shetty’s death, Mane pursued the application.

Shetty was seeking information on land deals in a forest area near Pimpaloli village.

On Sunday, the as-yet-unidentified assailants came on motorbikes and assaulted Mane with sticks at his hometown, Talegaon Dabhade, 30 km from Pune. The attackers fled as soon as Mane fell unconscious. He was taken to a hospital and is now stable.

The attack came days after Mane received death threats. Mane was given police protection but it was removed at his request days before the attack.

“Two days after I stopped taking police protection, some unidentified men threatened me at gunpoint. They asked me to stop seeking the information,” Mane said.

Mane had worked with Shetty, who was murdered on January 13 last year for exposing land scams around Lonavla, Pimpri and Chinchwad.

On Monday, hearing an application filed by RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar, Kuwalekar asked five state departments to “provide information to applicant Mane within four days, free of cost”.

The departments are headed by the district collector, settlement commissioner and land records, inspector-general of registration, superintendent of police and chief forest conservator. Kuwalekar also asked the departments to allow the public to access this information.

“This is a landmark order,” said Kumbhar.

A day after the assault, the police had no clues about Mane’s attackers. Police Inspector Sanjay Nikam said: “Mane did not name anyone as a suspect. All we have is a bare minimum description of the attackers.” Home Minister RR Patil said: “I told the police to investigate the attacks against Mane and nab the culprits immediately.”