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  1. Village head lodges counter-FIR against RTI activists AS reported by Faiz Rahman Siddiquiin timesofindia.indiatimes.com on Nov 8, 2012 Village head lodges counter-FIR against RTI activists - The Times of India KANPUR: Kanpur Dehat police booked four activists who had been seeking information from a village pradhan (head) on various development projects in their locality under the Right to Information Act (RTI). Speaking to TOI on phone, Sunil Singh, a resident of Shahjahanpur Ninaya village, said, he had filed an RTI application at the office of the district magistrate in September seeking information from authorities on various developmental work and several beneficiary schemes taken up by village pradhan Altaf Husain in the locality after it was learnt that there had been misappropriation of government funds for the area. "But we were shocked to know about a police complaint registered against us by an aide of the village pradhan at the Gajner police station," alleged Singh. He alleged further that Husain and his henchmen had been threatening them with dire consequences since the time the RTI application was submitted. Another villager Gulab Singh, whose name is also in the FIR, said, "Cops at the Gajner police station not only used foul language but also misbehaved with our kin and did not let us go through the contents of the FIR. They charged us with paralysing' governments developmental related work in the area." Despite continuous threats and cops' refusal to provide security, Ram Milan Singh, a relative of one of the RTI applicants, sought police protection and addressed a letter to the director general of police and chief minister. He has also lodged a complaint with senior police officials, who inquired about the issue with the Kanpur Dehat police officials. Repeated attempts by TOI to contact Husain failed. "The pradhan and his aides in collusion with the local police have been threatening and mounting pressure on us to withdraw the RTI application at the office of the district magistrate. Citing the fate of RTI activists murdered in various parts of the country, they threatened us with dire consequences," said Gulab Singh another RTI activist. "When we went to district collectorate to seek information regarding RTI queries, there also, his supporters followed us and threatened us to kill if not stop chasing the `wrongdoings' of village `pradhan'. After the verbal duel, they left the place and warned us to withdraw RTI application," he added. Shiv Singh, a relative of one of the RTI activist said "His cousin received stringent life threats on his mobile phone since he had sought information through RTI application from the district authorities. The unidentified persons had threatened to kill him," he said. He claimed that filing of RTI was their democratic right and that Husain was scared of the RTI queries. Sunil Singh, who has filed an RTI application, claimed the complaint to the police was meant to deter them from filing RTI applications with the district authorities. Additional superintendent of police Ram Kishan, however, said the police were conducting preliminary inquiry into the incident and admitted an FIR had been filed against the seven villagers of Shahjahanpur Ninaya village on the complaint of a villager in this regard with the Gajner police station.
  2. The right to development in a way has been strengthened by the Right to Information Act. This act, enacted by our government, is one of the strongest such legislations in the world. It is also an essential tool of democratic participation, through which the boundaries of the “rights approach” to development can be further extended. It brings in transparency and accountability into the development process. The combination of the National Rural Employment Guarantee and the RTI Acts provides a very potent base for expanding the rights of citizens vis-à -vis the state in ensuring equity and social justice. This is particularly relevant for the poor and vulnerable. On the occasion of the National Legal Literacy Day, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh addressed the National Colloquium on Poverty Alleviation, Food Security and Right to Development organized by the National Legal Services Authority
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