RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar was threatened on Monday afternoon, by a corporator-builder during file inspection under RTI at the Pune Municipal Corp
Threats and assaults on Right to Information (RTI) activists have unfortunately become a common phenomenon across the country and one more incident has been added from Pune. On 31st March, Corporator Kailash Gaikwad, threatened RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar while he inspecting certain files under Section 4, at the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). The files Kumbhar was inspecting pertain to the politician’s construction site in upmarket Aundh area.
Kumbhar, who is a resident of the neighbourhood where the construction is coming up, went for file inspection to check out the permissions given by PMC for this construction site.
Kumbhar says he was shocked when suddenly Corporator Gaikwad came in and threatened him in front of the PMC officials. Gaikwad told Kumbhar that he (Kumbhar) should know that it is his (Gaikwad’s) project and he (Kumbhar) should not dare to put any hurdles; and if he does, then will have to bear the consequences. Kumbhar says he was shocked at the language used by Gaikwad.
In his official complaint to Police Commissioner Satish Mathur, where he describes the corporator’s threat in detail, Kumbhar has stated that, being a resident of the neighbourhood where the construction is coming up, he wanted information on certain permissions given by the PMC. He has also stated that, given the backdrop of continuous threats to whistle-blowers, the Commissioner should take up his complaint, seriously.
Kumbhar also stated in the complaint that after the incident was over, one of the Corporator’s builder friend called up to say that perhaps Gaikwad was not aware that Kumbhar was a RTI activist. He hence suggested that a meeting could be held to resolve the issue which Kumbhar says, he is not interested to do.
Kumbhar, who has pioneered inspection of files under Section 4 of the RTI Act, continues to use this tool effectively to not only expose corruption and financial irregularities in the civic corridors but has been instrumental in making the civic body amend some regulations, for better transparency.
The builder lobby in Pune is largely owned or controlled by the political fraternity and any transparency in this area is often met with threats.
Kumbhar has also sent copies of his Police complaint to the Pune’s Municipal Commissioner and the City Engineer.
Let us see what action the Pune Police Commissioner takes in this regard.
Here is Kumbhar’s letter to Pune Police Commissioner Satish Mathur: