Thursday 22 April 2010

2 MCD officials held for threatening RTI applicant

Note from the Organizers:

On the 13th of March, The YP Foundation hosted an inter-generational RTI forum for young people at the India Habitat Center, in partnership with UNDP, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, SPIL and Governance Now. The forum looked at where the RTI movement in India stood, the work that people had done collectively and examined what young people had to critically focus at this point and time, to be able take the movement forward.

As part of the discussions of the forum, Mohit Sharma, a participant, shared his concerns with the audience on threats he said he had received from the MCD, in response to filing an RTI Application concerning illegal construction work in Shahdara. In a conversation with Mr. Wajahat Habibullah, Chief Information Commissioner, who was present at the panel, the CIC promised to be look into the matter. We are extremely happy to report from the Times of India report pasted below, that the CIC seems to have followed up on their word! On behalf of all of us present at the forum, we'd like to thank the CIC, Mr. Habibullah and Mr. Shailesh Gandhi for keeping their word.

In Solidarity,

The YP Foundation

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2 MCD officials held for threatening RTI applicant

Dwaipayan Ghosh, TNN, Apr 21, 2010, 01.20am IST

NEW DELHI: Two MCD engineers have been arrested in northeast district after they allegedly threatened an activist who had filed an RTI application seeking details of illegal construction in Shahdara (North).

"We have arrested the engineers — assistant engineer Umesh Singh and executive engineer B M N Rao. Our investigation revealed the two had gone to the house of the complainant in Dilshad Garden and threatened him. The third accused — junior engineer Hari Singh — is yet to be arrested. We have certain leads and will arrest him soon," said S S Yadav, DCP (northeast).

The arrests came after the victim approached the information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, seeking help when the local police did not take him seriously. Incidentally, a few policemen from the area were recently suspended by senior officers after they allegedly helped a trader kill his maid in Ghaziabad. Sources said when the activist approached Gandhi, the local policemen feared action against them and some progress was made in the case.

Mohit Sharma, 33, had filed an RTI application seeking information from the MCD on unauthorized constructions in Shahdara (north). Instead of furnishing the details, MCD engineers tried to put pressure on him to back out. When Sharma refused to comply, they landed at his house and threatened him with "dire consequences".

Sharma complained about the engineers at the Seemapuri police station but he got no relief. Sources said that when Ghandi came to know about Sharma’s struggle, he wrote a letter to police commissioner Y S Dadwal. In his letter, he urged the police chief to look into the matter. A few days later a case was registered against the accused.

According to the FIR, Umesh had threatened Sharma directly. "You are too young to play such dangerous games. It is like playing with fire," he reportedly told the activist. "Umesh also told me that no one can survive after clashing with MCD officials. I will demolish your home" claimed Sharma in his complaint.

Article Link: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/2-MCD-officials-held-for-threatening-RTI-applicant/articleshow/5837950.cms

Thursday 8 April 2010

Press Release: On the death of Dr Srinivas Ramachandra Siras under suspicious circumstances

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 7th April, 2010

News reports on several media channels have just reported the death of Dr Srinivas Ramachandra Siras, 64, Reader and Chair of Modern Indian Languages at Aligarh Muslim University. According to reports, Dr Siras’ body was found “in mysterious circumstances” with bleeding from the mouth in his home in Aligarh.

Dr Siras, as is known, had recently fought against his unlawful and unethical suspension from AMU on the grounds of “gross indecency”. After decades of teaching, he was suspended merely a few months before his retirement on the basis of videotapes filmed by intruders into own home without his consent in a blatant and homophobic violation of his privacy. Right after, he said: “I have spent two decades here. I love my University. I have always loved it and will continue to do so no matter what. I wonder if they have stopped loving me because I am gay.”

Dr Siras’ suspension had provoked outrage from countless citizens, teachers, and community members across the country. He had challenged the AMU administration in the Allahabad High Court. Just this past week, the Court stayed his suspension and his unlawful removal from his official accommodation. Dr Siras said, “I am happy because I have been judged in a wrong way. I have already said that I am gay. I am the same man, with the same qualifications, with the same features and personality. Now I can go back to my beloved University.”

We, as concerned citizens, members of the Independent Fact Finding Committee and, for many of us, as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Indians ourselves, express our shock, outrage and deep sadness at the loss of a teacher, a loyal member of the AMU community, a gay man, and a kind, gentle soul.

Since the death of Dr. Siras has taken place under suspicious circumstances, and he has made powerful enemies in the recent past, we demand that the police conduct a full, fair and impartial investigation into the cause of death. A step in the right direction has been taken by sending his body for a post-mortem examination. The results of this examination must be made public immediately.

We demand that the concerned police officer should immediately register a case of unnatural death under Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure and forward this information to the concerned Executive Magistrate.

We demand that the Executive Magistrate conduct an inquest as mandated under Section 176 of the Criminal Procedure Code to determine the cause of death.

That Dr Siras had to undergo the trauma, fear, harassment and humiliation in his own beloved University in what would turn out to be his last weeks is condemnable. If these events and that trauma are in any way linked to his death, then all actors involved must be held culpable.

Deepti Sharma (Saheli, Delhi), Anjali Gopalan (Naz Foundation, Delhi), Gautam Bhan (Voices against Sec 377, Delhi), Pramada Menon (Voices against Sec 377, Delhi), Lesley Esteves (PRISM, Delhi), Sunil Gupta (Nigah, Delhi), Arvind Narrain (Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore), Jaya Sharma (Nirantar, Delhi), Avantika (AALI, Lucknow), Saleem Kidwai (Lucknow), Kabi Sherman, LABIA (Lesbians and Bisexuals in Action, Mumbai)