The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI) has written to Maharashtra governor C. Vidyasagar Rao criticising the violent attack on state chief information commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad, demanding strict action against those responsible for the incident.
Gaikwad and his wife Shivaganga Gaikwad were allegedly attacked by activists of the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM), a political outfit led by Babasaheb Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar, in Aurangabad on April 17. The attackers had alleged that Gaikwad was responsible for the demolition of Ambedkar Bhavan in Dadar, Mumbai, and attacked him to teach him a lesson.
However, a day after the police arrested eight BBM workers for the assault, which had taken place at the Subhedari government guesthouse, its general secretary J.V. Pawar claimed that the attack had taken place in self defence. “Upon Gaikwad’s arrival (at the guest house), he gestured to private bouncers, who began forcibly evicting the BBM cadre who had gathered on the lawns of the guest house for a meeting. Our party workers retaliated only in self-defence as they were provoked. We strongly believe in the rule of law,” he was quoted as saying.
Not going into the details of the case, the letter by NCPRI, which has been signed by Aruna Roy, Shailesh Gandhi, Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey, Venkatesh Nayak and Amrita Johri, among others, has stated that the most disturbing aspect about the attack was that Gaikwad was targeted “while he was on an official trip, and on premises of the State Government, while there was a police presence.”
Stating that those who may have grievances against Gaikwad, incumbent of a statutory authority with quasi judicial responsibilities, have other legal ways and means to sort out their issues, NCPRI said that such an attack on those who are responsible for upholding the rights of citizens results in undermining the office as well.
With there being “sufficient video evidence to identify and act against” those responsible for the incident, the NCPRI demanded that those behind the “inhuman and unconstitutional Act” should not go unpunished. “Failure to act promptly will not only be an injustice with Mr Gaikwad, but will also undermine democratic practice and democratic institutions in India,” it said.