Dangerous to know: India’s Right to Information Act

NEW DELHI, March 3, 2011 (AFP) – Soon after he exposed how bricks were bought for six times their value for roads that were never built in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Amarnath Pandey was shot near his home. The bullet, which he believes was fired by contractors who were benefiting from the brick scam, clipped his ear and grazed his skull, leaving him in hospital for weeks.

Pandey, 56, a doctor from Robertsganj, a sleepy city 400 miles (640 kilometres) from New Delhi, has been fighting for better civic amenities in the area for more than two decades.

He used India’s new Right to Information (RTI) Act, passed in 2005, to find out why roads were not being constructed despite funds allocated by the government — and the facts he discovered nearly cost him his life.

“I found that 100 bricks that costs 400 rupees (eight dollars) were shown to be purchased at 2,400 rupees. Money was conveniently being siphoned off and roads were never built,” Pandey told AFP.

“The contractors involved in the wrongdoing resisted my efforts and decided to kill me,” he said after undergoing surgery for his gunshot wounds.

No one has yet been arrested over the attack in January.

Pandey refuses