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Lucknow couple plans book on ‘RTI martyrs’

As a salute to those who sacrificed their life fighting for the citizens’ right to information,a Lucknow-based couple is working on a book on ‘RTI martyrs’.

Written by Mohd Arshi Rafique | Lucknow |
April 6, 2010 3:29:07 am

As a salute to those who sacrificed their life fighting for the citizens’ right to information,a Lucknow-based couple is working on a book on ‘RTI martyrs’.

The brainchild of Amitabh Thakur,a 1992 batch IPS officer pursuing a doctoral course in Human Resource Management at IIM-Lucknow,the book will have a brief biography of each RTI martyr,a description of his/her work and contributions in the field.

“The idea is to equate RTI activists with soldiers and freedom fighters and inspire others to follow people like Satish Shetty,Lalit Kumar Mehta,Shashidhar Mishra and Venkatesh — all of whom laid down their life for the sake of bringing about transparency in the society,” said Thakur,who plans to co-author the book with wife Nutan,a social activist.

They formed the National RTI Forum recently to promote and highlight RTI activities. Most of the material for the book has been collected and they hope to publish it in around four months.

“The book shall narrate the background and sequence of events leading to the murder of RTI activists,it will be backed up with police investigation and the follow-up in the judiciary,” said Nutan.

“While emotional aspects of the life of these activists would help to establish a reader connect,a critical evaluation of each case will be presented in a manner that its inspire others,” said Nutan,who is reaching out to various groups,such as the RTI Empowerment,RTI Kerala,RTI for NGOs,RTI India,e-Governance India and Hum Janenge and RTI activists to collect information. “We also plan to get the life stories of some unsung heroes,” she said. “They deserve recognition for the fact that they sacrificed their lives for the cause they felt was right. The response has been encouraging.”

The first to respond was Santosh Shetty,brother of Satish Shetty,who exposed several land scams and irregularities in kerosene distribution before he was murdered while returning home at Talegaon-Dabhade in Pune,Maharashtra. Shetty was on his morning walk on January 13,when he was attacked with swords and sharp weapons by unidentified men.

He had demanded police protection after having received threats to his life by land mafias of the area. The Maharashtra government has recommended a CBI probe into his murder.

Settled in Texas,US,Santosh provided detailed information about the activities of his brother and how he was different from others.

“He was not just an RTI activist. For the last 15 years,he had been working for the common man,like exposing black marketing of kerosene. Satish had saved the government more than Rs 5,000 crore in revenue,but he did not have Rs 500 in his pocket. I want to tell this to you and others who really care for this country. I am based in Austin,Texas. I am not like Satish or you,I always thought about my gains,” wrote Santosh in an email response to the forum’s idea of the book.

When he was killed,Lalit was helping a team of volunteers from Delhi and elsewhere to conduct a social audit of NREGS works in Chainpur and Chhattarpur blocks of Palamau district. Attempts had already been made to dissuade the team from conducting this investigation,particularly in Chainpur block.

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