SPSS has been actively campaigning for better use and additional protection under the much-lauded Right to Information Bill.
Information and technology have been the pillars of our campaign.
We mobilize people on issues: of the NREGS, on the PDS, on pensions. Information on these is key: we collect information via the internet and media, we disseminate using the mobile radio and our many sabhas and rallies.
We know how much one can do using the RTI bill.
We also know how dangerous it can get. Our friend and supporter, Ram Kumar Thakur, was murdered in broad daylight by the mukhiya (village head) and his cronies. Ram Kumar, a lawyer by training, was an RTI activist who had unearthed several forms of corruption in the Panchayat of Ratnauli.
We have been campaigning for justice for him and his family for over a year now. We have met the Bihar Chief Minister, Mr. Nitish Kumar, who promised immediate action. We also met Mr Jairam Ramesh, the Minister for Rural Development at the centre. He too gave us assurance of support and issued letters.
The Mukhiya continues to parade the village, scot-free. On the other hand, it is Ram Kumar Thakur’s family that lives in fear.
As the Hindu recently wrote:
“As he [Ram Kumar] raised objection to the inclusion of ghost names in the muster roll, he was beaten up by ‘mukhiya’ Raj Kumar Sahani’s men. Despite two to three attacks on his life, Ram Kumar still kept pursuing cases. The culprits just shot him on March 23, 2013,” said his friend and another RTI activist Sanjay Sahani. He has come to Delhi to seek the passage of the WP Bill”.
Read more about Ram Kumar Thakur here.