Former civil servants write to Odisha CM over attacks on RTI activists

Bhubaneswar: Raising concerns over the rise in cases of attacks on Right to information (RTI) activists, 18 former civil servants have urged Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to pass and bring the Whistle Blowers Protection Act into effect immediately.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, the former civil servants wrote, “The government of Odisha will have to recognise this repetitive pattern of violence as an abuse of law and order, promised to all people who live in your state, and take quick action to arrest the murderers. We further look forward to your statement warning those who make such attempts in the future of severe and immediate punishment. This can only be put in place through additional legislative and administrative measures.”

This apart, the former civil servants stated RTI activists who lose their lives should be seen as whistle blowers and human rights defenders, and their families should receive support and compensation.

“Measures undertaken by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) for MGNREGA should become the State government policy for every department, so that the issues themselves are thoroughly investigated, and the RTI users objective of exposing and eliminating corruption continues beyond the attack,” the letter said.

“It is also imperative that the State government must make efforts to implement Section 4 (1)(b) of the RTI Act, whereby public authorities must provide information suo motu to the public. We look forward to an immediate and positive response,” the former civil servants said.

The letter cited the murders of RTI activist Ranjan Kumar Das on January 31, 2020 and suspicious death of RTI activist Abhimanyu Pandya in December 2019 while drawing the attention of Odisha government to the need for taking measures to prevent such attacks in the future and ensure that RTI users are protected.

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