28 September 2016: CIC calls for hearing after two years;
6 January 2016: Appellant’s son has already died
On 1 February 2013, Parag Ingle, an 8th standard student from the prestigious Loyola High School of Pune, was hit on the forehead with a bullet that came from the rifle of a junior officer of National Cadet Corps (NCC) who was training him and his classmates on NCC grounds. His family was crushed with grief. Parag, who was a wizard at elocution and drama competitions in school, sunk into a coma at the Command Hospital. And that lasted for two years – from 1 February 2013 until he breathed his last on 6 January 2016.
His father, Devendra Ingle, an engineer at the Pune Municipal Corp, knocked at the NCC Headquarters wanting to know was how his son died and what were the circumstances that led to his death as well as what action was been taken against Amod Ghanekar, the junior officer, who shot Parag? He did not get any answers nor was any action taken against Ghanekar, who instead went to court, claiming his innocence.
The Pune Police report categorically nailed Ghanekar. The report states “Without having any revolver license or having any authority to conduct firing, Amod Ghanekar stood behind the boys, handled the .22 rifle in an irresponsible manner, loaded and despite the knowledge that it would be grievous or fatal if a student suddenly gets up, he fired. A bullet hit Parag on his forehead and he was grievously injured. Thus, it is an attempt to kill, by Ghanekar.”
Ingle, came with the Central Information Commission (CIC) notice to this author. He said, “See, I kept waiting for justice by CIC since the time I filed my second appeal on 7 October 2014. Since my son was battling for life, I filed RTI application with the Additional Directorate General of Army Education, New Delhi, in mid-September 2014, seeking information on the following. On 1 February 2013, at NCC Headquarters, Pune, my son NCC Cadet Master Parag Devendra Ingle was gravely injured when he was shot with five bullets by a .22 Rifle. He is still unconscious. I would like to get all the information and papers regarding the action taken by the Army on all the Army Officers and In-charge person connected to this incident. I would also like to know the nature of punishment was given to the person responsible for this incident.”
Since he got no information, he filed second appeal way back in September 2014 with CIC and now he says, “I have got notice for hearing on 28 September 2016, which I have to attend, via video conferencing, when I have already lost my precious son.’’
In what can be called as complete apathy by the CIC, his second appeal was simply filed away. Could the CIC not have shown some sensitivity towards such a shocking case, that even a stranger would feel the pangs of pain? Should the CIC not have considered an out-of-turn hearing? Should all second appeals be treated in a nonchalant manner?
The CIC notice dated 12 September 2016 has asked Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), in the Ministry of Defence, NCC Group Headquarters, Pune and CPIO of Head Quarter, DG NCC, West Block IV, RK Puram to be present, besides Devendra Ingle, who as complainant would be present through video conference. Despite the delay and post his son’s death, Ingle says “…does not matter if my son had died. I still want to know what were the sequence of events that led to his death. What action has been taken against other NCC officers, besides Ghanekar who has merely been suspended.”
RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar who co-petitioned the second appeal states, “This is a classic case of the CIC being totally cold and clinical towards some second appeals which may call for great urgency in disposal. It is sad that there was no one to apply balm on Ingle’s grief, not even the RTI Act, which has been enacted to empower a common man.”
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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”.)