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Monday, July 13, 2009

RTI Activists preparing for Satyagraha during current Parliament Session

RTI Activists in Mumbai and Delhi are planning a big push during the current session of Parliament to prevent possible amendment of RTI Act 2005, and to force the central government to make meaningful commitments for its proper implementation by DoPT and Information Commissioners. Multi-pronged efforts being made for this are outlined below:

1) Through joint efforts of over a dozen activists in Mumbai and elsewhere, the RTI Charter of Demands in English and Hindi were posted to around 1,100 members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Chief Information Commissioners, leaders of political parties etc.

[See photos of eight Mumbai activists preparing 1,100 letters and envelopes for mailing:

Download mailing list:

Read contents of letters sent: ]

The activists who participated in drafting, translating, compiling address lists, printing envelopes, dispatching etc. were: Sunil Ahya, G R Vora, Mohammed Afzal, Krishnaraj Rao, Sumer Bais, Bimal Khemani, Sherley Singh, Prashant Sawant, Ravi Kiran Haldipur, Vijay Chauhan, Sanjay Ghatalia and K N Singh. This mailing campaign happened over three weeks of preparation to coincide with the ongoing session of Parliament. The last batch of around 200 letters is to be posted today at the General Post Office.

2) MP Sanjay Nirupam, who held several meetings with Mohammed Afzal and others, is planning to highlight these issues in Parliament. He is focusing on the issue of improper implementation of Right to Information, and also, persecution of RTI Activists around the country. (Read about seven incidents of persecution: )

3) Rakesh Agarwal of Nyaybhoomi, New Delhi, is putting up flex posters/banners in English and Hindi on the backs of 100 auto-rickshaws. They exhort the citizens to defend their Right to Information, as it is a valuable weapon against corruption by bureaucrats and politicians. (See designs of the autorickshaw banners here: )

4) Sunil Ahya, Krish and a few other undertrials in Mumbai are planning to get their surety cancelled on Monday, 19th July, and go back to jail as a Satyagraha to press for implementation of their Charter of Demands. By staying in jail, they intend to bring the government to the negotiating table to talk about the Charter of Demands. Legal opinions have already been sought, and the homework is currently going on for their return to jail for a pre-determined or indefinite period.

The possible outcome – success in some degree or failure that may be mild or disastrous – is not a constraint for a Satyagraha, given the willingness to suffer for the cause of RTI implementation. Authorities can prevent us from agitating only if we are keen on sleeping in our own bedrooms after a day of agitating. If we volunteer to sleep on a cold stone floor, eat Spartan jail food and put up with rough treatment, then who can stop us? We want to go beyond idle speculation and exchange of ideas, and find out for ourselves how things can turn out.

Wish us luck in our venture.

Warm Regards,
Krishnaraj Rao
98215 88114

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