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Panel seeks strong bill to save whistleblower

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY OUR NALBARI CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 10.07.12
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Shillong, July 9: In the wake of the assault on RTI activist and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi, the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI) today demanded a strong and effective Whistleblowers’ Protection Bill to protect RTI users and anti-corruption crusaders.

Akhil was assaulted while he was surveying the flood situation in Punni village at Dharmapur in Nalbari district of Assam and is currently undergoing treatment at Nalbari civil hospital.

However, he was released from the hospital today after doctors certified him to be fit.

Condemning the assault, the panel, which has social activists, journalists, lawyers, professionals, retired civil servants and academics as its members, said Akhil, the KMSS and residents of flood-affected districts in Assam, including Kamrup, Baksa and Darrang, have been demanding that the recommendations of the task force set up in 2004 by the Centre to tackle the problem of floods in Assam, be made public.

“They have also been pushing the water resources department to repair embankments breached by the floods to prevent further suffering in these regions,” the NCPRI said.

“The NCPRI demands that the Assam State Information Commission immediately declare suo motu on their website all the information that (Akhil) Gogoi had asked for, particularly the recommendations of the 2004 Task Force Report. It also demands that the Assam government should act swiftly to identify (Akhil) Gogoi’s attackers and bring them to justice. The motive of his attackers to silence his voice must not be allowed to succeed,” the statement added.

Moreover, the NCPRI expressed anguish over the series of attacks, which have taken place on RTI users across the country.

Apart from the immediate action of releasing all the information sought by the attacked RTI user, the NCPRI also called upon the central and state governments to institute an effective mechanism for providing protection to RTI users and anti-corruption crusaders in the same manner as whistleblowers within public authorities.

In this context, the NCPRI said it was important to make a demand for a strong and effective Whistleblowers’ Protection Bill, 2011 (Public Interest Disclosure and Protection for Persons Making the Disclosure Bill, 2010).

Anna Hazare today criticised the Assam government and condemned the assault on Akhil. He told The Telegraph that the assault showed the Assam government did not respect democratic means of protest.

He also said he would hold demonstration at New Delhi from July 25 to protest against the assault.

Arbind Kejriwal said he would visit Nalbari and Guwahati within this week to raises his voice for Akhil.