NEW DELHI: On the occasion of completing ten years of the RTI Act, the NCPRI (National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information) organised a public hearing in which people from different parts of the country participated. The event was organised in Gandhi Peace Foundation situated at Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg, New Delhi and witnessed some eminent personalities, namely working as RTI activists in the programme.
Various RTI activists from different states were present during the event and discussed their experiences as activists of the past 10 years. Apart from this, the committee said that there was supposed to be a meeting of various RTI activists on 16 October 2015 with the country’s Prime Minister. Insights from all over the country were necessary. Still, they introduced a change, and only 7 people were allowed to meet with the PM due to security issues. They condemned this step and said they would not attend the meeting.
Pankti, an activist from Gujarat, shared a story that a blind man named Roop Chand filed an RTI with her help asking questions regarding the construction of the roads in his village, which seemed to progress for quite a long period of time. What he got to know as the answer was that three times the government had approved the construction fund for the road, but it’s all on paper, whereas they could see no results in reality. Due to this RTI, the authorities took cognizance and roads were constructed in his village steadily. He filed an RTI because, being a blind man, he got hurt several times due to the damaged roads.
Another activist called Mr Sheikh from Jammu and Kashmir said that in his state, the army detains many individuals in the name of “security reasons”, as AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) is enacted in his state. Those who once get detained rarely come back home, and no one is answerable to this question. By filing RTIs, he got to know a few detained people’s details, but others are still missing.
Along with them, Joy Kumar, an activist from Manipur, shared how people in Manipur get humiliated by the local MLA’s and their hooligans for filing RTI’s concerning local issues. Apart from such challenges, they are using this activity and getting their due rights.
Mr Habibullah, the first appointed CIC, and Mrs Sandhu, the first women CIC, were also present during this event, and they also shared their views regarding this act. Renowned RTI activist Aruna Roy and Anjali Bhardwaj were also present at this event.
During this important event, some common people were also present and shared their humiliating experiences with public servants in ration shops, BDO Offices, etc. They used RTI as a tool for their and society’s benefit.
Finally, a drama was organised by a group called CGNet Swara, which expressed the grief of North-East tribal people and how they suffer due to the lack of education, water and other living resources. This act also reflected the irresponsibility of the government body towards them. This event brought out the problems in the working of the system and how changes were brought slowly and steadily and hence, turned out to be a success!