The Nandigram issue isn’t just holding up the business in the Parliament. It has also caused ripples among Indians in the US. Asserting their right to know under the Right to Information Act, dozens of non-resident Indians (NRIs) have asked why did the police fail to defend the lives and rights of the people of Nandigram?
The motley group that includes academics, students, lawyers, IT professionals and management consultants has also sought to know the total number of those dead and injured in Nandigram violence that erupted earlier this month as well as earlier, in February. Attempting to get an official response to the alleged torture and human rights violations in the violence, the NRIs have also sought to know the role of the police in the incidents. “Why were the human rights activists who attempted to enter the affected area on November 7 were not protected or escorted by the police?” the application seeks to know, among other details.
The NRIs want to know the government’s position on the incident, the deployment of CRPF there as well as the status of the SEZ project in the area. The group has also informed the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah about the application. The CIC, when contacted, said the NRIs have asked for information from the embassy on a matter that does not concern the embassy. “But, since they have asked for the application to be forwarded to the concerned department the matter is under consideration,” he said.
The NRIs will up the ante if the application remains unanswered on any ground, sources said. Preeti Sampat, who is a part of the group told Hindustan Times on email: “We are waiting for intimation from the embassy regarding our application and will plan further action once we hear from them.” Sampat, an RTI activist and member of the Rajasthan based Mazdoor Kisaan Shakti Sangathan, is now pursuing a PhD in the US. She added that the NRIs have furnished their passport details as proof of their being Indian citizens.