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RTI Act & Whistleblowers

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Uttishtha Bharat Salutes all the martyrs as well as those who are still continuing the course of duty to fight for a better & corrupt free nation. Please go down the page to find some of those valiant RTI Activists & Whistle blowers of India.

"Silence of Good men is more Dangerous than the Brutality of bad men" - Martin Luther King

Citizens Forum for Whistleblowers

Citizens Forum Against Corruption (CFAC) is a civil society forum to support the whistleblowers who are aware of various corrupt practices within the government offices & have evidences too but lack the courage to report such instances due to fear of getting victimized & not foreseeing adequate action being taken against the culprits. The forum has people from diverse fields including Bureaucracy, Law, Journalism etc. Primary function of this forum is to provide support to whistleblowers. It is supported by the SK Dubey foundation.

Whistleblower Protection Bill

Union Cabinet, on the 9th Aug 2011, cleared the bill for whistleblower protection.  This bill will entail protecting the whistleblowers & punishing those who expose the identity of people disclosing information based upon public requests. This will provide Central Vigilance Commission same powers as that of a civil court to hand down severe punishments to people revealing identity of whistleblowers. The CVC will be empowered to take action against those who reveal the identity of whistleblowers or those who threaten the whistleblowers while those who make frivolous complaints will also be liable to punishment. The bill was cleared from Loksabha during the 2011 monsoon session & is still pending with the Upper House Rajyasabha since Mar 2012 for approval & be inacted into Law.

National RTI Awards 2010

National RTI awards are given to those among many RTI activists whose acts have brought powerful impact within the system & at times, even shook the respective governments to order further inquiries, to uncover the corruption. The awards were decided by a jury of Narayana Murthy, Justice JS Verma, Madhu Trehan, JM Lyngdoh & Sanjay Gupta. The awards would be given in Jan 2011.

Outlook Assistant Editor Saikat Dutta has won the best RTI Journalist award for un-earthing the Rice Export scam worth almost Rs 2500 Crores. Investigation is now with CBI.

Pradeep Kumar, BDO of Bilaspur, was adjudged as the best in the PIO (Public Information Officer) category. The customer satisfaction of people for all information that went from his desk was at almost 96%.

Best Citizen RTI awards winners are Vinita Kamte, Manoj Kumar Karwasra, Ramesh Kumar, Athar Shamsi & Rajan Savlo.

Vinita Kamte was chosen to bring about the fact about the ill-preparedness of the Maharashtra government in dealing with the terrorist attack on Mumbai in which her husband attained martyrdom while fighting the terrorists.

Manoj Kumar won the award basis the RTI regarding illegal activities being done by the panchayat in his village. Government land was being encroached by the panchayat members themselves. This led to the removal of all village panchayat & even filing of cases against them by the Haryana government.

Ramesh Kumar exposed the sub standard medicines that were being provided by the government hospitals to the poor people. In some cases the medicines were not even tested before being fed. As a result the Haryana government has now issued notice not to buy medicines from companies with less than a formidable sum & also testing has been made mandatory.

Athar Shamsi fought for the cause of beedi workers in Uttar Pradesh. As against the minimum wage of Rs 60 per 1000 beedi production, the poor workers were being given only in the range of Rs 20-30 by the manufacturer in connivance with the government officials. His effort helped to increase the wages to Rs 52 / 1000 beedi production.

Rajan Salvo started his crusade against the illegal registration of Indian land in the name of foreigners in Goa. This is illegal as per the FEMA. As a result of this the government has now given stern warning to the registrars not to do any land registry in foreigners name.

  • Besides the above awards 10 RTI activists, who were killed during this year exposing various level of corruption within the system, would also be honoured. They are Amit Jethwa, Satish Shetty, Datta Patil, Sola Ranga Rao, Vitthal Gite, Lalit Kumar Gupta, Kameshwar Yadav, Vishram Laxman, Sasidhar Mishra & Venkatesh. Information regarding some of them are mentioned below.

 

Muneesh

Muneesh was a whistleblower who died recently, mysteriously though, after being thrown from a moving train. He had spoken about how rampant corruption was flourishing in the UP Homeguards department with the Senior Officers demanding Bribe from the Homeguards to put them on duty. Based on the info provided by Muneesh, IBN team had conducted few sting operations to corroborate the same & even broadcasted it on their channel.

Source: IBN Live

Bidhu Bhushan Dvivedi

Bidhu Bhushan Dvivedi was an Inspector in the Anti Corruption Vigilance department in 1992 when he had first submitted a report to his boss, DG Vigilance, G Narayan about the gross misappropriation of accounts within the Animal Husbandry Department (AHD) & possible involvement of former Chief ministers in the scam. He was shifted first & later suspended only to be reinstated back by Jharkhand High Court. Bidhu Bhushan Dvivedi retired as DCP & is a witness in may of the 53 fodder scam cases. Former Chief Minister Laloo Yadav, along with another former Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra, was convicted early Oct 2013 in one of the cases by a CBI court & sentenced for 5 years. He is currently serving his sentence in a Jharkhand Jail.

Also to note is that former West Singhbhum DC, Amit Khare was the first to conduct raids on Chaibasa Animal Husbandry offices & register the first FIR in this case. Noted is also the role played by former regional CBI director Upen Biswas who played a very crucial & significant role in pursuing the investigations notwithstanding the  tremendous amount of pressure on him during the IK Gujral & HD Deve Gowda governments in the centre who needed Laloo's support to remain in power.

This was a story of Rs 950 Crores passed off as Chickenfeed in India

Satyendra Kumar Dubey

A person whom I knew personally. We had got introduced thru my nephew who then used to prepare for his MBA exams. Satyendra K. Dubey was born at the village of Shahpur in the Siwan district of Bihar to Bageshwari Dubey and Phulamati Devi. He was project director at the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). Meanwhile, faced with the possibility of high-level corruption within the NHAI, Dubey wrote directly to the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, detailing the financial and contractual irregularities in the project. While the letter was not signed, he attached a separate bio-data so that the matter would be taken more seriously. Despite a direct request that his identity be kept secret and despite the letter's sensitive content, accusing some of Dubey's superiors, the letter along with bio-data was forwarded immediately to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Dubey also sent the same letter to the Chairman of the NHAI. Soon Dubey received a reprimand: the vigilance office of NHAI officially cautioned Dubey for the impropriety of writing a letter directly to the Prime minister. In the process, through connections in the NHAI and the Ministry, it is likely that the letter may have reached the criminal nexus running the highway construction projects in Bihar.He was murdered in Gaya, Bihar after fighting corruption in the Golden Quadrilateral highway construction project.  SK Dubey foundation was created by two of his batchmates from IIT Kanpur to continue the fight against Corruption.

Manjunath Shanmugam

He earned his Computer Science Engineering degree from Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering, Mysore, and an MBA from Indian Institute of Management Lucknow. While working for the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) in Lucknow, he had ordered two petrol pumps at Lakhimpur Kheri sealed for selling adulterated fuel for three months. When the pump started operating again a month later, Manjunath decided to conduct a surprise raid around November 19, 2005. Having not heard from his son for three days, at around 9 that night, his father, M Shanmughan, had sent an SMS: "How are you?". There was no reply because that very night, during his inspection, Manjunath had been shot dead in Gola Gokarannath town of Lakhimpur Kheri. His body, riddled with at least six bullets, was found in the backseat of his own car, which was being driven by two employees of the petrol pump. Both were arrested and the main accused, pump-owner Pawan Kumar ('Monu') Mittal, was held on November 23 along with seven others.

Lalit Mehta

Killed in May 2008 in Palamu, Lalit Mehta used to work as Secretary for Vikas Sahyog Kendra, an organization prominent in the area of Right for Food & National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. It is believed that Lalit Mehta was murdered because of his extensive use of RTI to expose the high level of corruption in the above two areas mainly by the middlemen, contractors & government officials. It is also believed that the Maoists killed a person by the name of Raju Singh to avenge Lalit Mehta's death after the state government proved, yet another time, to be doing poor investigation into the murder. To honor his martyrdom, National RTI forum has instituted an award after him named as Lalit Mehta RTI Gallantry Award. 

Kameshwar Yadav

A prominent RTI activist of Khatauri village of Giridih district in Jharkhand was also killed in June 2008. Kameshwar Yadav was a member of CPI (ML) Liberation who used to work for poor & their rights. He was very instrumental in highlighting a lot of irregularities in the NREGS mainly due to the nexus of middlemen & contractors. His murder case is still under investigation after so many years since he was murdered. Link will take you to an article on the murders of Kameshwar Yadav & Lalit Mehta.

Satish Shetty

Social activist Satish Shetty (39), who had blown the whistle on a series of land scams in and around Talegaon, Lonavala and Pimpri-Chinchwad near here, was brutally murdered by some unidentified assailants near his residence at Talegaon-Dabhade on Wednesday morning. Shetty was on his morning walk around 7am when he was attacked with swords and sharp weapons. He was rushed to hospital but was declared dead on arrival. An anti-corruption crusader for the last 15 years, Shetty had started wielding the Right to Information Act (RTI) Act to expose the irregularities in government offices since the last five years. His brother, Sandeep (34), told the police in his complaint that Shetty may have been murdered by some persons whom he had exposed. He said his brother had exposed many land scams in and around Talegaon.

Arun Sawant

An activist from Thane, Maharashtra, was critically shot at in Badlapur in February of 2010. He was highly instrumental in Social work prior to his association with RTI activism. He was shot while he was returning after filing RTI at the Badlapur Municipal Council office. Today this 58 year old man is partially paralyzed. Mainly his area of focus was civic issues. He had even taken the local politicians head on, including a local MLA & contested his election to the municipal Council.

Ramdas Ghadegavkar

Right to Information (RTI) activist from Nanded was found dead under mysterious circumstances. Ramdas Ghadegavkar was also a Shiv Sena leader and the head of the district Milk Sellers Association. Police in Nanded, about 650km from Mumbai, registered a case of “sudden death”, after 43-year-old Ramdas Ghadegavkar’s body was found. Ghadegavkar had exposed the thriving sand mafia in the region through the RTI act and had lodged a complaint reporting the same. His complaint had also led the district administration to initiate action concerning the issue. 

Amit Jethwa

Amit Jethwa, an Indian environmentalist and social worker, active in the Gir Forest area near Junagadh, Gujarat. He had filed several court cases against illegal mining in the protected area, naming Bharatiya Janata Party member of parliament, Dinu Solanki as one of the respondents. On 20 July 2010 he was shot dead by two assailants on a motorbike. On September 6, Dinu Solanki's nephew Shiva Solanki has been arrested for allegedly having ordered gun-for-hire Pachan Silva and one other to commit the killing.

Datta Patil

Datta Patil, an activist from Ichalkaranji in the Kolhapur district, was found dead on May 22. Patil who was well known in his hometown Ichalkaranji in the Kolhapur district for taking on administrators via the RTI act was attacked with a sword. Friend and activist Appa Patil said, "He was involved in a lot of social causes. He exposed corruption amongst several politicians and bureaucrats". Patil had petitioned the local court against horse trading during municipal council elections. He had also demanded an inquiry into the assets of 2 former police inspectors. He had lodged several complaints against a prominent builder for illegal constructions. 

Murugan

Murugan was killed in cold blood. For governments, it is just another number added to list of murders of RTI activists / whistleblowers. He recently exposed a scam whereby the expensive pulses were replaced by cheap pulses in godowns. He was a government employee in the same food department under whose nose all this was happening. This unabated killing of such people must stop.

Ashok Kumar Shinde

RTI activist Ashok Kumar Shinde was beaten up by some unknown people for his RTI followed by a PIL against Public Works Department officials making money on the pretext of repairs in Bombay High Court premises. Shinde was attacked right outside the Public Works Department building in Mumbai on Wednesday. Shinde had earlier taken on the PWD with a string of RTIs and a PIL and alleged that PWD officials had illegally made around Rs 24 crores, in the name of repairs at the Bombay High Court premises. "They have indulged in corrupt practice and made money in the High Court project. I found this out by using RTI," says Shinde.

Anwar Shaikh

Anwar Shaikh had recently exposed a land transfer in Vikhroli of Mumbai. This Land was actually reserved for public use but recently de-reserved by the state government & transferred to a private builder for commercial use. He received death threats from the local goons to keep away from the plot that was being demanded to be made into a cemetery by the local residents. Although he has filed a petition in the high court to provide him with adequate security but hope, in the meantime, he doesn't meet the fate like many other RTI activists did, who were killed by the mafia because of the apathy shown by the state governments by not providing enough security to them in time.

Jayashree N

Hardly would one find like Jayashree J N who has been fighting a battle against the corrupt babus by being amongst the Babus. Married to an IAS officer, this lady has been fighting against the corrupt who have threatened to kill her husband for unearthing the gross corruption at the Sr. Babu (IAS) level. It's a voracious battle against those big babus who shield the corrupt in many facets of life that touches us. I would really love to see many more Jayashree's. She has all of the support from UttishthaBharat in whatever good that she pursues in this battle.

Kisan Baburao Hazare

Kisan Baburao Hazare, popularly known as Anna Hazare, a Social activist known for his developmental work in a village in Ahmednagar district, champions the cause of Right to Information act by unearthing various corrupt practices in many a public offices. Retired Army personnel, he has been instrumental in the social reform & development. A very small sense of what he does can be judged by the very B'day celebration of the village that he helped develop, Ralegan Siddhi, where on 2nd of Oct every year village elders, meritorious children & youth are honoured. He has donated his land for a hostel building, donates his pension to the village development fund & lives in a village temple with bare minimum belongings. He famously demanded the ouster of Information Commissioner Ramanand Tiwari with the help of RTI & finding enough information about his misdeeds. Other than that it would not be fair not to mention that he had made laborious efforts to get the "Right to Information" at the first place along with many fellow colleagues. He is currently leading the nation for "India against Corruption" along with several other activists. http://annajihazare.blogspot.com/

Udaybhan Singh

A man who fought the 1965 war is now fighting a war with crooks from within the country after filing a RTI against the MCD run "paid toilets" in Delhi. He is fighting a mafia that controls all of the MCD run toilets within Delhi with connivance with the Police & Delhi Municipal officials. It can only be a shame if any Indian court asks about the proof whether Police or Municipality officials are involved or not after seeing the blatant mockery by the toliet mafia & proof that Shri Udaybhan Singh has furnished so far. The story doesn't end there, even after registering complaints with the Delhi Police twice & direct threatening received by the mafia; Police has done just nothing to safeguard this man at least until this time when I am writing about him on 23rd Dec 2010. As a citizen of this country, there is a need to help a war veteran in his fight against these mafias & also to bring them to book including the erring Police & Municipal officials. 

Niyamat Ansari

Niyamat Ansari didn't have any different intentions rather to help the poorest of the poor to reap the maximum out of the government schemes like NREGA. He had raised his voice against the irregularities in the implementation of the schemes at Jan Adalat organized by the district administration. Ironically he was killed by 12 Maoists through merciless beating by lathis. Does this also raise another issue that Maoists are not really fighting for the poor now rather their merciless killings have moved towards those innocents who create any roadblocks to the continuous source of income that the Maoists keep generating from the local mafia, businessmen & administration? Niyamat's death was no different than that of Lalit Mehta who too had been murdered few years ago while he unearthed the irregularities in NREGA. Unfortunately, it also highlights an issue where administration works hand in glove with the mafia. Had it not been the case, the district administration wouldn't have slapped a false case against Niyamat Ansari. 

Saseendran

He was killed along with his two sons. He was the only key witness in at least 4 vigilance cases against Malabar Cements ltd. He had opened the lid off the cases. His body had 8 bruises & was found hanging along with his two sons. Can you imagine what is the level to which the goons stooped that they didn't even spare his children. Leftist government will take action & I am sure the so called intellectuals of the society will do so but what surprises me more is that how in-different they could be that they didn't even provide any security to Saseendran. Was Achuthanandan so naive that he didn't understand what happens to a whistleblower in India?

Mahabir Singh

Another glaring example of gruesome attack on an activist who wanted to unearth the unholy nexus of the Sarpanch along with some district officials to siphon off the pension money. He was beaten up severely while his daughter-in-law bore the price by giving away her life. She was first beaten up & when she fell on the ground, they made their car run over her & sped away. Fairly it was a laxity on the state to safeguard them but then equally the people nearby. Why didn't they come to their rescue when she was being beaten up? Governments have always said that they are ready to provide security to the activists but equally they can make provisions that every activist needs to be mandatory provided with security cover round the clock. 

Shehla Masood

This list is just not dying down & I am fearful about it. Here is another example of a daring lady who was killed today on the 16th Aug 2011. She was killed by a single shot when she was getting ready to board her car in the morning. A native of Bhopal & an active RTI crusader, Shehla Masood, had exposed a lot of cases thru her RTI applications especially on the animal deaths in the wildlife corridor & Corrupt Bureaucracy. She never feared any one even if it meant daring the Corrupt Politicians & Sr. Police officers. She had also taken very active part in mobilizing people movement in Anna's support against Corruption. I, Neeraj Singh, will always have sweet memories of our tweet exchanges & her ever smiling face on twitter. May she Rest in Peace. India keeps fighting back. 

Nadeem Sayed

An activist from Juhapura, Gujarat, who was also a witness in 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre that saw the killing of 95 people after Godhra incident, was killed on 5th Nov 2011. Nadeem's statement in the trial case was recorded hardly couple of months back by the court. He was also a police informer in few cases. He was highly instrumental in exposing illegal slaughter houses within the state.

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