Persuade Mamata on Lokayukta, RTI, Hazare urged

Kolkata, Feb 18: Ahead of Anna Hazare’s meeting with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, a rights group Tuesday sought to apprise him of the Trinamool Congress government’s actions on rights issues and a Lokayukta’s appointment, and asked him to persuade her to act.

The Association for Protection of Human Rights (APDR) in a letter to Hazare has accused Banerjee of making all statutory quasi-judicial organisations “non-functional with an ulterior motive” and asked him to persuade the chief minister to take corrective measures.

In the six-page letter signed by its secretary Ranjit Sur, the APDR has said that despite coming to power 32 months ago, the government has taken no steps to appoint a Lokayukta.

“The government is totally silent on the issue. She (Banerjee) has announced no plan whether she would appoint a Lokayukta or amend the existing state Lokayukta Act or make a new Lokayukta law to make it powerful. We are apprehensive about her intention over this issue as in the past she denied even to think or comment over Lokpal issue,” the APDR has said.

The APDR also drew Hazare’s attention to the West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) which has become defunct after the “controversial” departure of its chairperson, Justice (retd.) A.K. Ganguly.

“Government of West Bengal and its chief minister has brought WBHRC to this position consciously only to make it non-functioning,” alleged the APDR, pointing to the appointment of former state police chief Naparajit Mukherjee as a non-judical member of the commission and subsequently making him its acting chairperson.

The APDR has filed a petition before the Calcutta High Court opposing Mukherjee’s appointment as his tenure as the top cop was marked by “several cases of police firing, fake encounters and numerous instances of human rights violations”, many of which are being inquired by the rights panel.

“The State Information Commission is almost a non-functioning organization. No Government department bothers to reply RTI applications in time, if replies at all. RTI activists and information seeking public care totally frustrated here. Government is never interested in reviving it to a live position,” the letter said.

“We hope in the interest of the people of West Bengal you will take measures before you join hands with Mamata Banerjee and let us know the outcome, preferably in public,” said the APDR, asking Hazare to persuade the chief minister to take corrective measures.

Hazare, who has praised Banerjee for her simple living, was to meet the Trinamool Congress supremo in the national capital Tuesday. Trinamool general secretary Mukul Roy last week said he has agreed to campaign for party candidates all over India in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.

IANS