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A Letter to the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir re the Arrest of Five Right to Information Activists

14 March 2010

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Mr Omar Abdullah Saheb
- Chief Minister J&K State

Sir, Five of Our RTI Activists have been lodged in Chadoora police station of Budgam on false charges of robbery, assault etc. They were arrested today. The Police is being pressurized by the ruling local National conference leadership. We have been working on good governance and transparency in the area and this is the end result. On one hand CNN IBN [Television network] confers Citizen Journalist award to our work and on the other hand we are being treated like criminals and booked under theft, robbery and other cheap cases.

Our image has been tarnished by the workers of National Conference in Charai sharief constituency. The wife of Chowdhry Saifudin Numberdar (village head man) of Branwar in Chararisharief assembly constituency went to magistrate and leveled false charges against our RTI Activists including myself and Dr Sheikh Ghulam Rasool. She says that we beat them in the house and stole gold ornaments, Rs 30,000 etc. Can any civilized person believe this?

I swear i even don’t know that lady who might be of my mothers age. We were nearly killed if the Police or CRP would not have reached the spot on that fateful day ie 27th Feb 2010.

I appeal Mr Chief Minister to answer me?

RTI law is a new born baby in J&K.Less that 5% people are aware about this act. This all is happening with us who are the pioneers of RTI Movement in J&K, what can you expect with others?

RTI will be a total failure Mr CM if you would not control these disgruntled elements who do not want to see J&K a corruption free state. We have exposed some bungling in Branwar area. We are fighting against timber smuggling and we are being rewarded with such awards. We are ready to sacrifice our lives for this sacred cause but your workers cannot muzzle our voice. The people who are in Chadoora police station are common poor young boys of Branwar village.

I want an answer from you. We will otherwise protest at Jantar Mantar, India gate in the days to come and other RTI Activists of India will be supporting us for this.

Dr Muzaffar Bhat
- Convener, J&K Right to Information Movement
- Srinagar