Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Aruna Roy: Using RTI to Get Justice

Citizens for Peace has been doing excellent work to promote peace, understanding, a ray of hope in the murky world of communalism, sloganeering, vocalism, and violence. In this article below Aruna Roy, Magsaysay Award winner talks about how the aggrieved in Gujarat used the Rights to Information Act (RTI) to get the police to treat them with respect. Seems to us, poor defenseless people that we are, RTI is the only stick that a belegured public can wield against those in power who manipulate it for their own ends and reasons. Excerpts:

"Kuldip Nayyar would probably have been quite encouraged if he had heard some of the presentations made by people during the course of the day at the same meeting. Presenting a well researched and documented report of the Nyayahgrah programme in Gujarat, Surur Mander spoke about the use of the RTI by victims of the Gujarat riots. They had embarked on a mission to seek justice with a firm resolve to not resort to unethical or violent means. For pursuing the legal cases, information was a vital prerequisite. Initially, their sense of hopelessness with the criminal justice system was only getting compounded, as their requests for information were rudely turned down, and they were turned out of the police stations they went to.

"Their use of RTI soon after the Act was passed however, brought about a dramatic change. Not only were their questions being answered for the first time, but suddenly they were being treated with dignity in the very offices that had aligned themselves with their tormentors. They were now being asked to sit down, offered a cup of tea, and being treated as respectable citizens. Even more significant was the change in the powerlessness. Police officers even agreed to face political pressure and arrest the powerful communal leaders they had been reluctant to, with the request that the related RTI applications be withdrawn. Over 200 people in Nyayagraha have through peaceful persistence procured information from the police, and put the truth in the public domain. Read the full article here.

Good work Citizens for Peace. We applaud your efforts!

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