New Delhi: NREGA activist Niyamat Ansari was brutally murdered on March 2 and of the eight accused, one person has been arrested so far.
The latest attack has prompted Aruna Roy, one of the architects of the RTI and the NREGA to write to Congress President Sonia Gandhi emphasising on the urgency of protecting anti corruption efforts.
There are reasons for grave concern. Demanding information, especially at the grassroots, poses a serious threat to vested interests, and not surprisingly, retaliation was swift. Exercising the right to information can cost one his life.
Till date, 16 RTI activists have been murdered. Prominent among them are Lalit Mehta, Satish Shetty, Dattatrya Patil, Amit Jethwa. While 28 citizen activists have been assaulted, 33 have faced harassment.
"RTI activists must be treated like human rights defenders. They are constantly under threat," said Nikhil Dey, Member Sub Group, Transperancy and Accountability
With many of the accused still absconding, the mood in Niyamat's village was grim and the fear was palpable.
"More than 100 policemen are camping in the village school since two days. The school has remained closed," Mehfuz Ansari, Niyamat Ansari's Nephew
The focus has been shifted yet again on the whistle blowers act, and currently with a standing committee in Parliament, critics said, it is of little use if passed in its present form.
The scope of the law must be expanded to guarantee legal protection to all whistleblowers and not just to insiders within the institution.PAGE_BREAK