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Tuesday , June 24 , 2014
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Life threat reply to RTI query

Patna, June 23: An Araria-based Right to Information (RTI) activist is repenting his attempt to expose corruption at the district urban development authority (Duda).

Activist Anurag Prashant (25) apprehends a threat to life for using the act as a tool to expose embezzlement of public funds.

Inspired by Aamir Khan’s television talk show Satyamev Jayate, Prashant, sought certain information about the allotment of funds for the construction and repair of roads undertaken by Duda in Araria town, around 300km northeast of Patna, in April this year. Prashant’s application created a flutter in the office and apparently put the bureaucrats on their toes.

Prashant, however, received a few calls on his cellphone, asking him not to pursue the matter. “Initially, I ignored the calls. But I became a bit apprehensive after anonymous callers started threatening me over the phone, even past midnight,” the activist said over phone from Araria on Monday.

Prashant said people with criminal antecedents hounded him. “I had to stop attending my tuitions for some time. I was being followed. When I told my parents about it, they advised me not to pursue the case,” the youth said.

Prashant, an admirer of Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate, said his efforts to contact local police officers proved futile. “No police officer was even ready to listen to my grievances. Finally, I decided to call on the deputy inspector-general (DIG) of Purnea range, who assured me all his support and promised providing me security, if required,” said the activist.

Prashant, however, is not very optimistic. “I doubt whether or not the administration would lend its support to expose of its own misdeeds. Sab to ek hi thali ke chatte-batte hain (All are equals when it comes to plundering of funds), he said, adding that the “loot of public money” had prompted him to use the RTI Act to set things right in the office of the Duda, which is primarily responsible for the development of urban localities in the district headquarters.

DIG (Purnea range) Parasnath said he had asked the superintendent of police concerned to look into Prashant’s grievances. “He came to see me a few days ago. I can’t recall the exact date. But he would not be harassed anymore,” said Parasnath.

The RTI Act, which empowers citizens to access information held by the government, came into force in 2005. The act is being held as a big weapon against corruption, discrimination and bad governance. “You can get any information by submitting an application with a princely fee of Rs 10 only,” Prashant added.

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