Threats Issued To RTI Invokers

IMPHAL, Apr 10: Three residents of Pallel, who invoked the Right to Information Act to seek information with regard to development works undertaken by Pallel Gram Panchayat under the MGN-REGS, have reportedly been threatened by unidentified persons and their plea for police protection yet to evoke positive response.

Speaking to newspersons at Manipur Press Club here today, RTI activist W Joykumar said Takhellambam Ibempishak, Sagolsem Memcha and Konjengbam Anita, all Pallel Mamang Leikai residents petitioned Kakching Block Development Officer, who is also the State Public Information Officer (SPIO), to provide details regarding wages and welfare schemes implemented in Pallel area by the Pallel Gram Panchayat.

While response from the SPIO concerned was being awaited, the three applicants received threats from unknown persons for their endeavor to know the truth, said Joykumar adding that under the RTI the BDO was petitioned to provide details on September 21, 2010.

As the appraisal failed to evoke any response from the said SPIO, another complaint was submitted to the Thoubal district Deputy Commissioner, the First Appellate.

With the Deputy Commissioner also declining to entertain the complaint on the ground that deadline for such a petition had lapsed, T Ibempishak and S Memcha filed a fresh complaint to authorities of Manipur Information Commission, which is headed by RK Angousana as the State Chief Information Commissioner, recounted the RTI activist.

It is informed that even as the Commission was going through the details to process appropriate measures, the Kakching BDO in his intimation to the Commission on January 20 this year insisted that the applicants had withdrawn the petition.

With the said applicants countering the BDO’s assertion with a formal complaint that they had neither withdrawn the complaint nor were the signature in the withdrawal application genuine the issue took a controversial turn, Joykumar narrated.

After perusal of the matter, the Commission chief issued an order on March 31, 2011 advising officials concerned to provide details sought by the RTI invokers within April 13 in addition to issuing a show cause notice to the BDO, Kakching as to why disciplinary action should not be initiated for not sharing information as had been sought by the applicants.

A week’s time has been provided to the BDO to respond to the show cause notice.

The Commission chief’s order also instructed the SP (Thoubal) to initiate favorable measures as had been proposed by the applicants besides urging the police officer to submit action taken report on the matter.

T Ibempishak, one of the applicants, who was also present at the media briefing contended that some days after the Commission’s order, unidentified persons showed up at her house with a stern warning not to venture out of home and as well as to withdraw the petition.

She further claimed that when Pallel police were apprised on the threat she and the other petitioners had been subjected to, they were asked to report the same to Kakching police station.

Rather than take necessary measures Kakching police suggested that the issue be put forth to the SP concerned, she maintained while expressing that due to fear she and her colleagues could not stay at home.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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