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Saturday, January 6, 2007

It’s a revolution

HT, Avishek G Dastidar, New Delhi, July 4, 2006: Responding to public demand, the Delhi part of the nationwide Drive Against Bribe campaign spread its tentacles outside the official camp at Indira Gandhi Stadium on Tuesday.
The organising members of the campaign have now set up two small camps specially dedicated to passport-related queries right outside the passport offices in R.K. Puram and in Sakarpur in East Delhi. The main camp will go on alongside as it is.
"From the very first day, we had been noticing that most of the queries regarding RTI requisition were related to the issuance of passports. Most had the problem that their passport applications were gathering government dust for ages. There were even those who wanted duplicate passports issued," said activist Arvind Kejriwal.
That is why on Tuesday, a team of volunteers were deployed at the two passport offices to sort help hundreds troubled citizens file their RTI requisitions.
And these, shall we say, sub-camps, will be running along with the main camp till July 15.
But things were not that easy for the proponents of RTI.
"Upon several complaints, we went to one passport office to see how RTI-friendly the place was. We were utterly shocked to find that even some key officials there did not have a clue of how to process an RTI requisition," said activist Manish Sisodia.
Campaign members said that the main problem people were facing was that their requisitions were not being registered. "That's why we decided to hold special, dedicated camps for passport-related matters," said Vaibhav, a member. Each sub-camp will have 10 volunteers, eager to help you file your requisition and get it registered at the passport office, from 11 am to 7 pm. In fact, on the very first day, the camps helped file more than 40 requisitions. "On Monday, the passport office at R.K. Puram was not receiving RTI requisitions. So we took people to the GPO and filed the same," Arvind said.
Meanwhile, at the main camp, the number of requisitions filed touched 140, almost double of Monday's figures.
However, Tuesday's success at the passport offices was not without hurdles.
"At one place, the cops arrived and started fighting with the volunteers saying that such camps could not be set up. Arguments went for long and almost turned to manhandling. But then, we were able to convince them that it was not illegal to set up such a camp outside a government office," Manish said.
Alongside Delhi's growing success, the so-far successful Mumbai camp received few visitors on Tuesday, thanks to heavy rain. "But elsewhere, the numbers of both visitors and requisitions filed at the camps are mounting," said an activist.

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