March 03, 2016

India: A Right to Information (RTI) Act Reply That is Blatantly Communal

The Times of India

'RTI reply' to fan communal flame?

Lucknow: Officials at Allahabad group centre of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were shocked to find that a letter received by an RTI applicant and purportedly written by its deputy inspector general as a reply to a query, said that "since he was a Muslim, a religion associated with terrorism, he couldn't be given the information sought by him due to security reasons".

An internal inquiry by the Centre found that it did receive the said query in November 2015 about its recruitment process, but its reply sent early last month didn't have the inflammatory reference. It was inserted later on. In a bid to find out the person behind this mischief, or an attempt to fan communal hatred, the centre would lodge an FIR in Allahabad on Thursday.

The incident relates to an RTI query sought by one Shams Tavrez, a resident of Usiya village in Ghazipur district about the grounds on which he was not selected for the post of constable at a recruitment held at the centre. Shams says that a paragraph in the letter stated that he couldn't be given the documents that he had sought because he belonged to the Muslim community which is a religion of terrorists.

CRPF DIG DK Tripathi, who is also the central information officer (CIO) at the centre, says the original letter issued against the particular RTI query didn't have the paragaraph in question. "We have come to know about the issue and would lodge an FIR with the Allahabad police on Thursday in connection with the said CRPF reply to the RTI query," Tripathi told TOI.

Shams said he had appeared for recruitment as a constable at the Allahabad centre in 2010 and was not selected. In December 2012, he moved an RTI query addressed to DG CRPF seeking details of why he was not selected. "In 2013, I got a reply stating that I was not selected as I was medically unfit," Shams told TOI. Thereafter, in November 2015 he sought details of his medical test through an online RTI query from the ministry of home affairs (MHA).

"In response to my second query, I got a reply on February 10, 2016 through a registered post. A part of the letter had this derogatory references about Muslims," he says. The paragraph in question in the purported RTI response from the CRPF reads: "In this connection, you are being informed that you belong to the Muslim community which is a religion of terrorists, hence as per section 8(1)(Ka) of the RTI Act 2005 we cannot provide you the documents for security reasons."