It took intervention from the chief minister for Pune Police to initiate action after a week on a threat complaint filed by whistleblower and RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar
One week after Right to Information (RTI) activist Vijay Kumbhar registered an official complaint with the Pune Police Commissioner Satish Mathur, against Corporator Kailash Gaikwad, the police has been finally woken up from its slumber after intervention from none other than Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Gaikwad, brazenly threatened Kumbhar with dire consequences, while the RTI activist was inspecting files under Section 4 of the RTI Act. Although Kumbhar filed a complaint, there was no action by Pune Police.
It was only after Kumbhar requested Chief Minister Fadnavis to intervene in the matter on Monday that things started to move. On Tuesday, the Police Inspector of the Chatuhshrungi Police Station called up Kumbhar and asked him to come there. Kumbhar who is out of station will visit the police station once he comes back. Earlier, when Kumbhar had lodged his official complaint to Police Commissioner Mathur, it was expected that the issue would be addressed on priority. However, Mathur simply forwarded Kumbhar’s complaint to a police station and asked Kumbhar to get in touch with it.
On this Monday, Kumbhar tweeted that he had sent an SMS to Fadnavis and attached the SMS conversation between them, stating that: ``Sir, I, Vijay Kumbhar from Pune. I was threatened and abused by a corporator from PMC while inspecting files under RTI on 31st March. I have written to Police Commissioner and PMC but there is no action, please do the needful.
The CM promptly replied, “Okay, will instruct the CP now itself.’’
“Then Kumbhar replied, “Thanks for the prompt reply. I don’t expect police protection and have not applied for it, but the solution is calling the culprit and warning him seriously, so that no one will dare to threaten any common person while obtaining the information.”
The CM replied “Sure.’’
The point is that the law enforcement agencies as well as the Pune Municipal Corporation have shown apathy towards this issue by not taking any action against the culprit. It was left to Kumbhar to directly approach the Chief Minister to address the issue. The point is, not everyone would have such access. What happens to the common man who, in the role of a whistleblower wants to highlight corruption but does not get any support from the system? Also, Kumbhar too cannot be said to be safer even if he has had the good fortune of the CM responding promptly. It will all depend on how the Pune Police acts now.
It may be recalled that the High Court, after the murder of RTI activist Satish Shetty had recommended that such cases should be addressed within 24 hours and taken seriously. Nothing has moved.
You may also want to read
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of
Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.