Mumbai: In view of spurt in attacks on RTI activists and social workers, Maharashtra Government has set up police committees to look into the criminal complaints and requests for security received from them.

The police panels have been set up at Maharashtra state police, Commissionerate and district levels following a directive from Bombay High.

"These committees would take serious note of the complaints received from activists and immediately act on them. We have formed these committees as per the order Bombay High Court order," Pravin Dixit, Principal Secretary (Home),
said.

At Maharashtra police level, a three-member committee, headed by Additional Director General (Law & Order) Satyapal Singh, has been put in place. A special IG from Law and Order and State CID wings each would be the other members.

The top level panel will hold meetings every month with 86 more committees -- two each at 10 Commissionerates and two each at 33 districts -- set up to look into the demands of security by the activists and their complaints, official sources said.

These committees will share information and prepare a comprehensive data of complaints and crimes related to the activists. The data would be provided to Home department as and when required, they said.

According to reports, this year alone at least five attacks took place on RTI and social activists in Maharashtra.

Over 25 attacks were reported last year, including at least 10 murderous assaults, on the RTI activists across India. These police bodies would ensure expeditious probe into the attacks on the activists, some of which have proved fatal in the past, and initiate quick action against the culprits, the sources said.

Santosh Daundkar, who filed a PIL in the High Court against illegal concessions granted to the multi-storey Adarsh building in South Mumbai around three years ago, welcomed the move, but feels more still needs to be done.

The government should keep the RTI activists' names secret and act on the complaints made by them, said Daundkar who had been attacked by a person allegedly associated with a prominent builder.

Simpreet Singh, another Mumbai-based RTI activist, echoed similar views.

In January last year, Satish Shetty, a prominent RTI activist who had exposed land scams, was killed by unidentified persons on Pune's outskirts, while a Mumbai-based social activist, Nayana Kathpalia, escaped a bid on her life.

In July 2010, RTI activist Ashok Kumar Shinde had been beaten up by unknown persons for his RTI followed by a PIL against Public Works Department officials making money on the pretext of repairs in the Bombay High Court premises.

In May, RTI activist Datta Patil was found murdered while in April Vitthal Gite, an education activist, was killed in Aurangabad.

 

(Agencies)