Right to Information
Pune RTI activist names 78 people in his suicide note

Naming 78 people in his stamp paper suicide note, Vilas Baravkar alleges harassment by police, politicians and some of his family members. His RTI applications, however, reveal some ‘vague’ information that he had asked for, say RTI experts

Pune has the dubious distinction across the country as being the city to witness the first ever murder of a Right to Information (RTI) activist, Satish Shetty in 2010. Here is another case of an RTI activist, who despite police protection, committed suicide allegedly due to harassment by police, politicians and some of his family members. RTI activist Vilas Baravkar, who has been given an armed police guard since 2010, had left a suicide note behind that mentions name of 78 people responsible for his death.

Fifty three year old Baravkar, a noted RTI activist from Chakan - a now high profile suburb of Pune, known for its multi-national automobile manufacturing unit- used to file RTI applications related to illegal constructions in and around Chakan and Khed and had sought legal intervention in the matter. The case is still being heard in the District and Sessions Court at Pune and on Monday, a day before he died, Baravkar was present for hearing.

According to a report from Daily News & Analysis (DNA), a suicide note on Rs100 stamp paper was also found at his (Baravkar’s) residence. “The note names 78 individuals, including a senior politician and a senior personnel from the Indian Police Services (IPS),” the report says.

Baravkar also alleged that some people, including policemen, had twice hatched a plot to eliminate him, during 2007-08 and again in 2010. In the note, Baravkar also asked his wife and children to end their lives as anti-social elements mentioned in his ‘suicide note’ would not let them live peacefully.


Leading RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar spent a large part of Tuesday following up the suicide case by procuring copies of Baravkar’s RTI applications from the Pune bench of the State Information Commission and found that most of them related to mundane information from various police departments, which should have been available on the website as it falls under Section 4 of the RTI Act.

Speaking about Baravkar’s suicide and information that he sought from the police, Kumbhar says, “At this stage it is very difficult to comment on this issue. However, as most of his applications pertained to functioning of the police department, it would not be proper for the Pune Rural Police to investigate the matter. Irrespective of the authenticity of Baravkar’s allegations, the investigations should be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or the Crime Investigation Department (CID).’’

As per Rural Police authorities, the allegations are not pointed, but they would be investigated into.

Kumbhar rues that most of the information asked for by Baravkar related to suo moto disclosures by public authorities, which comes under Section 4 of the RTI Act and should therefore have been put up on the website, without any citizen having to ask for it. “For example, queries like number of police stations or officers in a particular police station should not command a requisition under the RTI Act,’’ Kumbhar says.

The four page suicide note, written by Baravkar is about some people and police conspiring against him and even attempting to take his life, twice. He was allegedly also frustrated with continuous adjournments in the court case.

In the meanwhile, Shetty’s case is still being investigated by the CID. A few weeks back, Shivaji Raut, noted RTI activist from Satara had received threats allegedly for filing RTI applications pertaining to the infamous Jambhe land scam in which Pune’s Divisional Commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh is allegedly involved.

The Asian Centre of Human Rights in its report – RTI Activists: Sitting ducks of India had observed that: “RTI activists are the most vulnerable human rights defenders (HRDs) of India. Unlike other HRDs, a large majority of the RTI activists are not necessarily part of any organisation or group. They often act alone, moved by outrage against corruption and other illegal activities. RTI activists are extremely vulnerable as they live in the same areas as the corrupt public authorities, political leaders and mafia who do not want information about their illegal activities to be disclosed. The lucky ones come to the media attention only when killed, maimed or battling for life.”

“When complaints are made by RTI activists, the law enforcement personnel, who are usually hand in glove with those threatening the RTI activists, do not take necessary action. The Right to Information Act, 2005 provides no protection. The Central Information Commission and the State Information Commissions are not mandated either to deal with such threats or attacks or to provide protection when needed,” the report says.

Shetty, also had appealed for police protection due to threats to his life but never got it. He was killed on 13 January 2010 by unknown attackers in Talegaon near Pune. Shetty, a systematic whistleblower, was credited with throwing light on several major land scams in the picturesque Talegaon—Lonavala regions, now a favourite with realtors in the state. He shot to fame after exposing certain corrupt land deals in and around the country’s first expressway, the Mumbai—Pune expressway, over a decade ago.

Baravkar’s case is one of suicide and not murder, but investigation will hopefully prove whether it was purely a personal trauma or frustration in pursuing RTI activism that led to his unfortunate end.

List of RTI activists killed until July 2013:


RTI for divorce cases

The Sunday RTI Katta at Chittaranjan Vatika garden in Model Colony in Pune has proved to be very successful with 40-50 citizens attending it regularly. “This Sunday, 30th March, it will be a special session on filing RTI for divorce cases,” states Vijay Kumbhar in a release.

(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”.)




3 years ago

In NCP/Khangress/You Pay Two ruled Maharashtra, anything is possible. I distinctly remember TV coverage of unarmed farmers protesting for their riparian rights being driven into a holding area by armed police and then being shot dead at point blank range. This video clip was pulled and has never been since cited in any newspaper. It has been erased from History like the All India Moslem riots of Ramzan 2012 that included the the ethnic cleansing of Bangalore, the desecration of the Lucknow Mahaveera, the Hyderabad Budha, the Bombay Amar Jawan Jyothi and the battering to death of a Police Woman in full view of her passive colleagues; or the ethnic cleansing of Kashmir, or, the persecution, pillorying and incarceration of the Kanchi Shakaracharya and the Shroutha Smartha Brahmins of South India. Or, the cloud of corruption that was widely reported about the then Chairman of the "Human Rights Commission" of India. (What Human Rights in India?)



In Reply to SuchindranathAiyerS 3 years ago

There are so many erasures of human rights abuses in India that cases like th Suryanelli Rape case implicating the Khangress' Deputy Speaker of the Rajya Sabha testify to the banality of Indian evil!


3 years ago

Youvraj Rahul is Claiming in Election Meetings that Congress has Passed RTI Act, to Empower Indians. He must agree Execution / Implentations by His Buereucrats is very Poor.Safety for RtI Actists is not in the Bill.They should incorate in bill Severe Punishment to Bureacrats , negligent in Implentation / Execution, along with Safety Measures for RTI Activists.

Tobacco users caught up in insurer’s Obamacare ‘glitch’

After signing up for coverage and disclosing they were smokers, about 100 New Hampshire consumers, including Terry Wetherby, find their new Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield policies cancelled because they were charged incorrect ‘non-smoker’ rates

Retired New Hampshire nurse Terry Wetherby doesn’t hide the fact that she smokes.

She checked the box on HealthCare.gov saying she uses tobacco and fully expected to pay more for her insurance policy under the Affordable Care Act. “It’s not a secret at all,” she said.

Wetherby dutifully paid the premium Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield charged her for January and again for February — and believed she had coverage effective on Jan. 1.

Then when Wetherby went to pay her March premium, she was told she couldn’t. A check arrived in the mail refunding her February premium with a two-word explanation: “Contract cancelled.”

Turns out, Wetherby was among about 100 smokers in New Hampshire caught up in a “technical glitch” that caused them to lose their new health insurance policies because they had been mistakenly charged non-smoking rates, according to the New Hampshire Department of Insurance.

It is unclear if the error affected smokers in other states served by Anthem.

Wetherby, 64, learned on Friday that her insurance was being reinstated, retroactive to Jan. 1, and that the original rate she was quoted — about $26 a month after a big government subsidy — would be honored throughout this year. She turns 65 in October and will then go on Medicare.

“When we were contacted by consumers who were experiencing application processing problems, we reached out to the carrier (Anthem), and worked with them to understand the factual situation,” said insurance department spokeswoman Danielle Kronk Barrick. “Ultimately, Anthem agreed that it would honor the originally quoted nonsmoker rates for the remainder of 2014, even though Anthem believes the glitch was not of its making.”

Still, for the past month, Wetherby has been scrambling to find out what happened and get it fixed. She contacted Anthem, her governor, her Congresswoman, her senator and state insurance regulators. She set up a Twitter account to try to get someone’s — anyone’s — attention.

“How can this be??” she wrote to me. “The ACA guarantees coverage. I went to the ACA website and received a rate. Anthem has taken my premium for 2 months and undoubtedly they have taken the corresponding US government subsidy dollars, yet they tell me I am not covered. I read where Obamacare is covering millions but when I speak to the NH Insurance department I am told many people have the same issue as I do.”

An official with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees HealthCare.gov, said “this was an error committed by Anthem” and that the insurer recently submitted revised data, which will soon be reflected in the online health plan comparison tool.

“CMS works to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the data issuers submit,” agency spokesman Aaron Albright said. “Issuers are also responsible for sending accurate and complete rating information to CMS."

Maine’s insurance superintendent Eric Cioppa said that up to 200 smokers in his state were also affected by Anthem’s glitch. “We have been working with Anthem and they have agreed to not only reinstate the policies but offer and honor the rates that they [the smokers] have been quoted,” Cioppa said.

Cioppa said four consumers had complained to his department about the problem and that officials are now working with CMS to get approval for the fix.

Across the country, some of those signing up for coverage are finding out that their policies are not what they thought: Their physicians are not in their insurance network, their drugs aren’t covered, or their copays are higher than expected. But Wetherby’s case was different — she was left with no insurance at all.

While it is legal in many states to charge smokers more for insurance, it generally is not okay to cancel them based on an error made by the insurer.

Officials at Anthem, the lone Obamacare offering in New Hampshire, did not return multiple emails and phone calls seeking comment. In a letter last week to the insurance department about Wetherby’s case, an analyst wrote that “it was determined that when the policy was to be loaded there was a difference between the calculated rate and the quoted rate, so it was never effective.”

Wetherby is exactly the type of person the ACA is intended to help. Retired in 2013, she lives on Social Security benefits and had been paying $400 per month for high-deductible coverage last year.

Once HealthCare.gov began working again in November, she logged on and signed up for coverage. Because her income is barely above the federal poverty limit, she qualifies for a huge federal subsidy — $657 a month. She is also eligible for help paying her copays and deductibles.

While Wetherby said she is healthy, she said she was nervous about not having insurance. When she canceled her old policy four days before the new one took effect, “I wouldn’t leave the house. I was so afraid I was going to get hurt.”

Even after what’s happened, Wetherby said she remains a “boisterous” supporter of the ACA.

“It’s been a long hard journey but I still believe in it because I believe that everyone should have insurance,” she said. “The president has just put so much effort into this and I feel we still do have a lot of people in government who believe in this, and I myself believe in it.”

Update: We've added information about additional Anthem customers in Maine who experienced similar problems to those in New Hampshire.

Have you tried signing up for health care coverage through the new exchanges? Help us cover the Affordable Care Act by sharing your insurance story.


Courtesy: ProPublica.org


MCA & ICAI’s mantra: Invest in PSU IPOs!

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Institute of Chartered Accountants of India’s idea of investor “education” is to tell you to invest in IPOs of PSUs! This has been a recipe of losing money

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) have come out with a special edition of ‘A Beginner’s Guide to the Capital Market’. This book, dispensing investment wisdom, includes ‘20 Mantras to Wise Investing’. The 5th Mantra says: ‘Surely Invest in Every PSUs IPOs’. “IPOs are only from very good and profitable PSUs; also very little risk of fraud. There would always be a discount for the retail investors. Don't get bothered by the listing price; stay invested.”

Well, unlike the babus at MCA and ICAI fattened with money from Investor Education and Protection Fund but are totally unaccountable, Moneylife believes in checking data before coming to investment conclusions. And here is the data.

Since 2010, when this booklet was first published, five public sector units (PSUs) have entered the capital markets. However, except National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd (NBCC), all others have performed very badly. In fact, some of them even failed to cross their listing price.


The S&P BSE Sensex hits a record high on 25th March at 22,079.96. If you had bought shares of PSUs from IPOs, which came after 2010, how much return would you have got by following “Mantra 5”?



Listing Date

Listing day
closing price

Closing price
of 25/03/2014

Returns in %
as on 25/03/2014











Coal India Ltd.










United Bank Of India





Punjab & Sind Bank






This once again proves that investment wisdom is dime-a -dozen and that you can never rely on anything that easily. For whatever its worth, we had identified the investment potential of NBCC and written about it in the Street Beat section of the magazine. NBCC: Solid Foundation. It came with an IPO two years ago. It was listed at Rs100 per share on 12 April 2012. It hit a 52-week high of Rs174.05 on 2 January 2014 and a low of Rs96.05 on 2 August 2013.


SJVN Ltd, earlier known as Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd is Hydro-electric power PSU. It got listed on 20 May 2010 at Rs28 and closed the day 10.54% lower at Rs25.05. It made its 52-week low at Rs18.30 on 25 September 2013 and 52-week high at Rs22.70 on 25 November 2013. Till date, it is nowhere near its listing day opening price. As on 25 March 2014, its share prices were down 17.17% compared with its closing price on its listing day.

Coal India Ltd (CIL)

The largest coal producer of the world, CIL entered market with an offer price of Rs245 per share. The IPO got over-subscribed by 14.17 times. On 4 November 2010, it opened at Rs287.75 and closed 19% higher at Rs342.35. On 3 June 2013, it made 52-week high of Rs298.91 and on 30 August 2013 it made 52-week low of Rs238.35. On Tuesday it closed 1.14% up at Rs273.90 on the BSE. As on 25 March 2014, its share price was down 19.97% compared with its closing price on its listing day.


MOIL Ltd, formerly Manganese Ore India Ltd, is state-owned manganese-ore mining company headquartered in Nagpur. It got listed on 1 November 2010 at Rs551 and closed the day 15.34% down at Rs466.5. It made 52-week low of Rs182.35 on 7 August 2013 and 52-week high of Rs259.95 on 24 March 2014. Till date it has nowhere near its listing price of Rs551. On Tuesday, MOIL closed 2.27% down at Rs247.05 on the BSE. As on 25 March 2014, its share price was down by 47.04% compared with its closing price on its listing day.

United Bank of India

United Bank of India is a state-owned lender headquartered at Kolkata. It got listed on 18 March 2010 at Rs77 and closed the day 10.65% down at Rs68.8. It made 52 week low of Rs23.40 on 21 February 2014 and made 52-week high of Rs62.95, a year ago on 18 April 2013. On Tuesday, it closed flat at Rs27.45 on the BSE. As on 25 March 2014, it was down as much as 60% compared with the closing price of its listing day. UBI was recently in the news, saddled by huge bad loans and exit of its Chairman and managing director under cloud.

Punjab & Sind Bank

Punjab & Sind Bank (P&SB) got listed on 30 December 2010 at Rs146.1 but closed the day 13.04% down at Rs127.05. It made 52 week high of Rs63.70 on 2 May 2013 and a 52-week low of Rs36.75 on 29 August 2013. On Tuesday, P&SB closed flat at Rs41.60 on the BSE. As on 25 March 2014, it was down by over 67% compared with the closing price on its listing day.

Hence, if you have followed the suggestion of the brilliant minds of MCA and ICAI, you would have made massive losses. The reason is that PSUs are badly managed – not because they have bad managers – but because they are treated as the personal fiefs by ministers and secretaries.




3 years ago

Nice investor education this.

Beginners will surely learn an early lesson . . . about what NOT to do.

And in equity investing, the Dont's are far more important than the Do's.

Milind Chitnis

3 years ago

Asking small investor to invest in IPOs of PSU in "Beginners's Guide" is a joke. One would have thought a balance fund or diversified fund would be a much better choice.

However having said that, while presenting price performance of past issues, should you not consider "offer price" rather than "closing price on the day of listing"? For person who has applied in IPO, that is the price he has paid.

Gopalakrishnan T V

3 years ago

Investment in IPOS of PSUs is to throw away ones hard earned savings The UPA government has cheated the investors by attractiing them to invest in IPOs and all are suffering. Shipping Corporation of India, NHPC, etc have attracted investors and all are quoting below the issue price.The credibility in the capital market and for IPO issues has been fully lost and investors are cursing the Government and SEBI for trapping and cheating them.The greed of the UPA government has literally given a go bye to the business ethics and open loot through scams, IPOs,bad loans,agressive pricing of any commodity without any rhme or reason have become the order of the day.Wrong taxation policies and laxity in Governance have made a mess of the economy and anybody can get away with anything has become a ground reality. People who think definitely cannot forget and forgive this Government for ever.


3 years ago

There was another chap recommending in a financial daily to invest in CPSE ETF. His argument was 5% discount + 6.66% loyalty bonus will any way give us 12% return. Guess he forgot to factor in the prices of PSU shares a year later.

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