Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Can I ask how my son died?

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 7, 2006

Can I ask how my son died?
– Rahul Mangaonkar
Times of India, Ahmedabad

The right to information (RTI) campaign is unearthing several stories and instances wherein citizens have braved odds, mostly created by babus. These incidents are inspirational, as the citizens have mustered up courage to seek accountability with their right to know.

Urmilaben Darji, 67, wanted to know the status of her Vidhwa Sahay pension application. On learning about RTI and her rights, she raised an innocuous question in her feeble voice, “Can I ask how my babo died?”

On a fateful night in March 1990, her 32-year-old able bodied son, working at Mansingh Lari at Panchkuva, did not return home. Upon inquiry, she was told that her son was dead and had been taken to Civil Hospital. She could not find her son’s body at the hospital’s morgue. This brought her to Kalupur police station to lodge a missing person’s report. There she was asked to look into the register, which has details on unclaimed corpses. The description of the clothes on one such body bore resemblance to what her son had been wearing when he had stepped out of the house that day. To add to the loss, she was told that the body had been cremated. The mother could not even get a glimpse of her son’s mortal remains.

For over a decade now, Urmilaben has been trying to etch out a life, for herself and her other son, who is mentally challenged. But there are questions nagging her. How did her son die? Why did the police hurriedly dispose off his body, without informing her? Now, with RTI, she has come forward with these questions to the cops. It’s as if the ghost of Urmilaben’s son is set to haunt the police, as she demands accountability. She has sought copies of the crime register number, the first information report, panchnama, body recovery report, statements recorded, the inquest and post mortem report, apart from answers to her questions.

Another case is that of Mahendrabhai Maniar. Gujarat Slum Clearance Board had offered a house at Rs 12,000. They allotted one to him for Rs 17,265. Through 52 instalments, beginning from 1978 up to 2006, he has paid them Rs 23,285. However, the board claimed Rs 70,110 from him through a show cause on December 18, 2005, asking why he should not be evicted! This is despite the fact that this old man has given photocopies of all the receipts of the payments made by him. With the fear of being deprived of a roof looming large, he has mustered up courage to ask the board – why?


One Response to “Can I ask how my son died?”

  1. captainjohann said

    Very encouraging stories.Hope some followup mechanism is in place.As an ex/bureacrat i know all things die down by sheer volume and lack of interest.FOLLOW UP MECHANISM IS MUST.

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