To, Date: 20.01.2012
Shri Satyananda Mishra
Chief Information Commissioner
Chief Information Commissioner
Room No.306, II Floor, August Kranti Bhavan
Bhikaji Cama Place, New Delhi - 110 066.
Bhikaji Cama Place, New Delhi - 110 066.
Sub: Urgent attention towards victimization of social and RTI activists because of his activism
This is to inform you that I am Afroz Alam Sahil, an M. Phil student at the Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. I was trained as a Journalist at the Jamia’s reputed Department of Mass Communication and Journalism where I had completed my MA in 2010. I belong to a poor family from Bihar and my father is no more but still my passion to be a good Journalist brought me to Jamia Millia Islamia where I qualified the national level entrance exam of Mass Communication course. Owing to my profession and my passion for social causes, I started working with Right to Information campaigners in order to educate people on their rights as granted by the Constitution of India and other Acts passed by legislature. So far I have filed 5000 RTI application and have successfully helped many victims of misgovernance, human rights violation case and corruption in public offices. I am not affiliated with any political party, any interest group and I am just a regular student at Jamia Millia Islamia. Because of my campaign, I had been threatened many times by powerful and rogue elements but I didn’t give up my RTI activism.
As an RTI Activist I have been involved with the following things:
· Since inception of RTI Act-2005, I am working as a RTI activist (filed more than 5 thousand RTI applications) and taken more than one hundred valuable information from Different Government Departments, which made to the national and international headlines.
· Publication of more than 500 articles in Hindi, Urdu and English in national dailies, periodicals on RTI.
· Run at least two active blog magazines on RTI available online (www.beyondheadlines.in, http://suchnaexpress.blogspot.com.)
· Work on Right to Information Act-2005, especially for Bihar and Delhi’s Youth (DU, IPU, JNU, IIT Delhi and Jamia) with different NGOs and different RTI Activist like Aruna Roy, Arvind Kejriwal, Sandeep Pandey, Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh, Manish Sisodia, Suchi Pandey etc.
· Attended a number of Social Audit activities in Rajasthan with Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Jean Drèze.
· Research on Section— 4 of RTI Act—2005 and RTI and Media.
· Worked for Three Year in Sarojani Naidu Centre, JMI as a volunteer.
· Organised many Campaign in West Champaran (Bihar) on Right to Information Act—2005.
Since last six months, I have started a campaign to ensure more democratic rights for students studying at Jamia Millia Islamia where election of Students Union had not been allowed since 2006. There are many issues which include fellowships, hostel allotment, health services and security for women students which I raised by my campaign letters,handbills and letters to professors and faculty members. We had clearly stated that we will use RTI act as an important tool for this campaign because Jamia Milia Islamia administration does never reply any formal letters of student rather it just calls the complainant and try to teach him/her a lesson. Because of my campaign, Jamia students started to talk about democracy and their rights as student and there was enormous pressure on Jamia to respond to the students’ demand to establish at least Students Grievance Cell. (some RTI, press statements, letters and news coverage of the Forum for Students Democracy are available on http://forumforstudentdemocracy.blogspot.com)
It is very sad to inform you that administrators of this institute had been harassing me since last six months. First of all they appointed an escort to vigil my activities and then I suddenly found that my attendance has become short even though I was very regular in my classes and had maintained good attendance which I am very much able to prove (Poof enclose). I was summoned by proctor office many times to be warned about my RTI activities, journalistic publications and presentations. Just last month, I was called by Delhi police (special cell) also about my alleged objectionable activities which were later found to be baseless. Jamia has regularly discouraged my RTI activism and has not even properly responded my RTI queries. I must state that I maintain highest possible esteem and respect for Jamia and its dignitaries and do not have any sort of personal animosity against any of them. My all activities are directed by goodwill and full faith on our constitutional rights which Jamia administration has many times failed to fulfil. I do not have any political affiliation nor have any influential powerful background that I pose any threat to anybody. I publish regular columns on many newspapers, make documentaries, run blogs, and part of some social awareness campaigns and have been honoured too by some groups for my services. (My CV is attached as proof)
Recent Case: 50 Lakh Rupees claim from me
On 18 January 2011, I had participated in a public debate ‘Prime Time’ on NDTV India in which I, as one of the panelist along with others spoke over the misuse of 10 lakh rupees by Jamia Millia authorities which Samajwadi Party had donated for legal assistance to the Batla House encounter victims. There is no iota of doubt that Samajwadi Party had given this money to the Jamia Old Boys Association for legal assistance of the victim students. Jamia Old Boys Association is very much part of Jamia which maintains its office within Jamia Millia Islamia and is active part of Jamia along with Jamia Students Union, Jamia Teachers Association. Jamia administration at that time had itself constituted some funds to provide legal assistance to victims in which Jamia students and teachers have also generously donated. I had filed an RTI application in Jamia about how the money has been spent till date.
Under the pretext of my one statement “Jamia das lakh rupiya kha gaya” Jamia has sent me a legal notice to publish unconditional apology by publishing and printing at prominent place of at least three national dailies and to make NDTV air a clarification of my statement, failing which a penal action will be initiated against me to the tune of 50 Lakh rupees. I have been asked to reply the notice within one week. (copy of legal notice enclosed)
In view of the abovementioned facts and evidences I put the following request to you:
Although I have decided to respond the notice with my best capacity, the prima facie motivation of this notice is nothing but to intensify its harassment against me and targeting me and my career personally. Can a university ask its student to pay this much amount for an alleged offence? Did any university ever punish any of its students like this? My rights as student have been regularly violated and I am being harassed at regular basis and now I am asked to pay a fine which is beyond capacity of my entire family wealth. Does constitution of Jamia or an education institution allow initiating an action against its student to this extent?
I request you to direct Jamia administration to stop my harassment and targeting me because of my RTI activism and journalistic publications and my social activism for ensuring the rights of other citizens. Please ask Jamia Millia Islamia about the real intentions and reasons of slapping this type of legal notice even though I am a regular student of the university. I shall be extremely grateful to you if you ask Jamia to withdraw the notice and initiate its action, if necessary, within Jamia’s proctorial guidelines which give students many protections from such harassments.
Because of this legal notice, I am very much disturbed and my poor parents, whose total property is not worth of 50 lakhs, are very afraid of my future. My journalistic profession and RTI Activism has also been seriously threatened and my basic human rights to enjoy full rights as a student are violated. I request you to look into the matter as on urgent basis so that Jamia does not drag me into painful legal battle which I and my parents are not able to afford. I am ready to face any inquiry and show cause given by Jamia’s proctor office and I am able to defend my position within that forum.
I am also afraid of my life after Jamia administration has started to target me specifically to make me vulnerable to powerful and rogue elements and other groups who might get exposed because of my social and RTI activism. It is very urgent to ensure that Jamia Milia Islamia administration stop targeting the students who are exposing maladministration and corruption through the help of RTI activism.
Thanks and Regards
Afroz Alam Sahil
F-56/23, Sir Syed Road,
Batla House, Okhla, New Delhi-25.
ü Notice of Jamia’s advocate Mr. Atyab Siddiqi to comply demands or face 50 Lakh rupees compensation.
ü My Curriculum Vitae
ü RTI Campaign for students rights in Jamia
ü Jamia’s proctor office notices to me and my attendance sheet.