Murder of Truth by Governments in India
The cover story of the latest issue of Frontline [Sept 10, 2010] is appalling. It says that “as many as nine RTI [Right to Information] activists have been killed in the first eight months of 2010.” What is their ‘crime’? They used RTI to expose the nefarious nexus between politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen and mafia groups.
Amit Jethwa, 33, was killed in broad daylight near the Gujarat High Court on July 20. He had been campaigning to prevent mining around the Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary. He used RTI and other legal provisions to advance his campaign. He received many threats from the ruling BJP’s MP from Junagadh. The BJP Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, is acclaimed for bringing industrial development to the state. He is also famous for eliminating large numbers of people for political benefits for himself and his party. Modi may not be directly involved in the murder of Jethwa. But can he and his party not bring development to the state without murdering people, especially people who stand for truth and justice?
The malady is not confined to Gujarat alone, however. Satish Shetty, Dattatraya Patil, Arun Sawant and Vitthal Gite are victims of the murderers of truth in Maharashtra. Shashidhar Mishra of Bihar, Vijay Pratap of UP and Sola Ranga Rao of AP also fell victims to mafia attacks because they all questioned certain corrupt practices using RTI.
Frontline quotes Arvind Kejriwal, RTI activist and Magsaysay award winner: “Those who indulge in corruption have become so aggressive, so bold and so intolerant that they don’t even fear the law and order machinery.”
The hijacking of law and order by criminals in connivance with the authorities who are supposed to uphold law and order is what is appalling. When the government itself becomes an embodiment of criminality what will the citizens do? Who but the government will be responsible for the emergence of extremist groups like the Maoists?
Instead of rectifying the situation by cleaning up the stables, the governments are trying to reign in the provisions in RTI. Many amendments are being sought in the RTI Act. Eventually the Act will be made ineffective by the governments.
George Bernard Shaw said, “Power does not corrupt men; but fools, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power.” India seems to have become a country where power is corrupted absolutely.