Odisha police book three RTI activists in connection for ‘fake news’

Activists stick to their claims stating they had not produced any manufactured information regarding the security of V.K. Pandian, a close aide to CM Patnaik

Published - April 04, 2024 01:44 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

The Commissionerate Police for Bhubaneswar-Cuttack has filed case against three Right To Information activists who alleged that 74 police personnel were deployed for protection of V.K. Pandian, Chairman 5T (Transformational Initiatives), and close aide of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Three RTI activist Pradip Pradhan, Prakash Dash, and Srikant Pakal have been booked under section 419, 420, 465, 468, 469, 471, 505 (1)(a)(b)/34 of IPC for spreading ‘fake news’. The case has been filed in city’s Saheed Nagar Police Station.

On March 30, RTI activists held a press conference in Bhubaneswar and informed that number police personnel deployed around Mr. Pandian was unusually high and they quoted purported information obtained by exercise of RTI Act.

The police administration had already dismissed the claim stating that no such reply was supplied to any RTI applicant.

Deputy Commissioner of Police of Bhubaneswar Prateek Singh had stated that, “We are assessing the veracity of the purported letter which is claimed to be in existence.”

In the press conference conducted by Odisha Soochna Adhikar Abhijan (OSAA), Mr. Dash had said the Reserve Inspector of Police, Bhubaneswar had informed that two armed sub inspectors, 11 havildars, 53 constables, and four women constables in addition to a protection vehicle were deployed for Mr. Pandian’s security. The issue triggered massive controversy as Bharatiya Janata Party raised the issue before Chief Electoral Officer.

Reacting to registration of cases, activists stuck to their claims. “We have not produced any manufactured information. The letter we had quoted did exist. The RTI information sheet contained reference number that was forwarded to applicant. Our members had gone physically to collect the copy of the letter. The concerned official had supplied the information,” Mr. Pradhan, convenor of OSAA, claimed.

“Implementation of RTI Act in Odisha has gone for a toss. One cannot easily obtain information under RTI Act. The administration has become unresponsive. There must be rationale in deployment of security personnel. The State exchequer should not be burdened unnecessarily,” he reiterated.  

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