A member of a tribal organization in Meghalaya was told to choose between a fine and excommunication by a traditional village body for exercising Right to Information (RTI).
Bobby Basaiawmoint, vice-president of a local unit of the Federation of Khasi Jaintia Garo People (FKJGP), said on Wednesday that the ‘dorbar’ (governing body) of his native Mairangbah has asked him to either pay Rs 5,000 or be evicted.
His crime: Filing an RTI at the office of the PIO (supply) of Mairang subdivision seeking answers to the appointment of a new PDS dealer in Mairangbah for this calendar year.
Mairangbah is some 110 km southwest of Meghalaya capital Shillong.
“I had moved RTI after noticing that on May 20 last year, the village ‘sordar’ (chief) appointed one Ribalin Marbaniang without holding the ‘dorbar’ and also before receiving an order from the supply office,” said Basaiawmoit.
The supply office rejected Marbaniang’s appointment on December 10. The village committee then appointed one Iosy L. Mawlong “under mysterious circumstances”.
“After I flied an RTI, the ‘dorbar’ summoned me and gave me a seven-day deadline to cough up Rs 5,000 or be ousted from my own village,” Basaiawmoit said, adding he decided not to pay after the ‘dorbar’ refused to given him a receipt.
An officer at the subdivision level said the local administration usually never interferes with issues pertaining to traditional bodies, but “this is something that needs looking into.”