| (From left) Sandeep Pandey, Sudha Verghese and Mahendra in Patna on Wednesday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
Panellists at a Right to Information Act convention on Wednesday advocated for the fight to ensure effective implementation of the legislation to continue despite attacks, often fatal, on activists.
National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, in collaboration with an NGO, organised the daylong convention at the Indian Medical Association Hall. Among the speakers were Sandeep Pandey, a 2002 Magsaysay Award winner and social worker and Nikhil De.
Pandey said several Right to Information (RTI) Act activists have been murdered in Bihar since 2005 when the legislation came into force. “No other state has seen RTI activists been murdered like in Bihar. Shashidhar Mishra (Begusarai), Ram Vilas Singh (Lakhisarai), Dr Murlidhar Jayaswal (Munger) and Rahul Kumar and Ram Kumar Thakur (both from Muzaffarpur) have been murdered.” All of them pursued issues pertaining to rural development.
“The number of attacks increases wherever there is more corruption. The government should ensure a transparency when it comes to the act’s implementation. The officers concerned should be ready to give information asked for and not look for loopholes to suppress it,” Pandey said. He also stressed for the provision of applying for one information at a time in Bihar to be changed, as it went against the people’s right.
Another speaker, Rupesh, adviser to the commissioner of the Supreme Court, said: “When there was no RTI, we fought for such a legislation to be put in place and now, we fight for its proper implementation. Somebody has to take the responsibility as far as providing the information is concerned. Until then, the attacks (on activists) will continue as will the fight to ensure the proper implementation of the RTI Act.”