One more whistle blower is murdered. S Bhuvaneswaran, a RTI activist who was fighting against land mafia in state of Tamil Nadu has been brutally killed.
This one more murder of the RTI user exposes the reality of protection state promises to the activists and anti-corruption crusaders.
Since 2005 more than a dozen murders and close to a hundred cases of physical attacks can be linked to the use of the RTI Act by victims seeking accountability from public authorities for their actions.
The big fight and politics over the lokpal has delayed the passing of Whistle blower’s protection bill which was introduced in the parliament during the winter session.
The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) has issued a statement condemning the murder and demanding the high level enquiry in this case.
The statement is as following-
The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) expresses its deep sense of shock and anguish over the murder of S Bhuvaneswaran, 38, a RTI user on 10th January 2012. He had filed 18 RTIs to receive information on land titles of his family land that had been forcibly acquired. He had been working tirelessly against the land mafia in Tamil Nadu.
Last July, after intimidation and a murder threat, Bhuvaneswaran had filed a complaint with the Avadi Tank Factory Police but no protection was given to him. The murder of this man, in the gruesome manner, in front of his four year old daughter, demonstrates yet another instance of the clear and present danger that all RTI users face from vested interests that are allowed to operate with impunity.
Since 2005 more than ten murders and close to a hundred cases of physical attacks can be linked to the use of the RTI Act by victims seeking accountability from public authorities for their actions. Governments have done nothing substantial to prevent such attacks from occurring or to bring the murderers to justice quickly.
NCPRI demands that the Government of Tamil Nadu act swiftly to identify Bhuvaneswaran’s attackers and bring them to justice. NCPRI also demands that the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission immediately examine the RTI applications and appeals that are pending in Bhuvaneswaran’s name and order disclosure of all information in accordance with the provisions of the RTI Act. The motive of his attackers to silence his voice must not be allowed to succeed.
It is the prime duty of the State to protect each one of its citizens, particularly those at greater risk because they are crusading for transparency and accountability.
The NCPRI calls upon the Central and State Governments to institute an effective mechanism for providing protection to RTI users and anti-corruption crusaders in the same manner as whistleblowers within public authorities. In this context, it is important to make a demand for a strong and effective Whistleblower Bill (Public Interest Disclosure and Protection for Persons Making the Disclosure Bill, 2010) which has been introduced in parliament. The Central and State Governments need to demonstrate their commitment to protecting law-abiding citizens by taking this first step.