Noida's residents have joined in the campaign for justice in the serial killings.
They have filed ten Right to Information petitions hoping to speed up investigations.
"It is no good that people are just angry. They need to come out and file RTIs," said Lokesh Batra, resident, Noida.
Batra says that as a resident of Noida he was only too aware of Nithari's growing number of missing children.
But like many other residents, all he could do was watch. However, now he says he's had enough.
On Thursday he and several other residents filed for information under the RTI Act, asking the Noida police, civic authorities and even the National Commission for Women what action they had taken to prevent the tragedy.
"We have asked the irrigation department as to when they had cleaned the drains," Batra said.
"If they had cleaned them earlier the bones may have been found and perhaps the culprits could have been caught earlier," he added.
RTI has been used effectively to challenge governments and the police.
Citizens of Noida, angry and anguished over the killings in Nithari, are now using the RTI to try and get answers on why it took the deaths of so many innocents before the police came into action.
Under the Right to Information public authorities have to reply within one month.
Moreover, the residents say that they may then use the information to take the authorities to court.
Noida, January 5 Almost exactly a year after RTI activist Lokesh Batra filed cases under the Right to Information Act on Noida Authority’s inaction on the state of drains outside Moninder Singh Pandher’s house in the aftermath of the Nithari revelations, both his cases have been dismissed.
Dismissing the cases in Lucknow on Friday, Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Information Commissioner Justice M A Khan (retired) observed, “Lokesh Batra and his agents have been conniving against the Noida Authority.”
Khan had taken over both cases involving contempt of Senior Information Commissioner Gyanendra Sharma’s orders by the Noida Authority.
The cases referred to the Noida Authority’s failure in providing “enough information” on Nithari’s sanitation and management.
RTI activist Commodore Lokesh Batra had a day before said that he suspected “foul play” by the state information commissioner. “Taking away cases from a senior information commissioner, a veteran journalist (Gyanendra Sharma) known for his honesty who has been questioning the Noida Authority for contempt of his orders, is worrying,” Batra said. “The hearings at the Senior Information Commission’s office in Lucknow were postponed due to a lax attitude and hasty cover-up attempts by the Authority after the Nithari killings were unearthed.”
Meanwhile, the drains and backlanes at Ground Zero in Nithari are still in the same condition as when the skeletons were unearthed last December. Newsline found the area behind D-5, blocked between houses D-1 and D-17, where the bodies were unearthed, filthy. The encroachment by house number D 4 is also still intact.
As reported by Tehelka earlier, a group of children had found flesh in the back lane while looking for their ball during a game of cricket. The lane was earlier used as a passage by locals.Recalling the incident, Manoj, who made the discovery, says, “We found lots of flesh and reported it to the police. But we were told to never play around that area again.”
The Noida police had dismissed the flesh they had come across as animal carcass. That passage is still blocked.
Ram Kishen, whose four-year-old son was among those killed in D-5, says, “I work for the Noida Authority and in spite of regular requests, no one is bothered about taking care of the place.”
The drain outside Pandher’s house is, meanwhile, choked with filth and locals say it has not been cleaned for months now, though the Noida Authority had claimed in its reply to the first RTI application that the drain is cleaned every 15 or 30 days. Jhabbu Lal, one of the victims’ kin, says, “Only the portion in front of D-5 is cleaned once in two-three months. The drain as a whole has not been cleaned for at least six months.”
Lucknow, February 14 The State Information Commission (SIC) today agreed to look into the grievances of the Uttar Pradesh Soochna Ka Adhikar Abhiyan Samiti and RTI activist from Noida, Commodore (retd) Lokesh Batra, in which the latter had complained that the commission was not doing enough to get a satisfactory reply from the Noida Development Authority over the Nithari killings. Accompanied by Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey and RTI activist Naveen Tiwari, Batra met officials of the SIC and requested them to constitute a panel to probe into the number of cleaning operations undertaken by the Noida Development Authority to clear the drain running near the house of the chief accused in the Nithari killing case— Moninder Singh Pandher.
The SIC has agreed to set up a three-member team to look into the matter. The commission will announce the names of the members later.
“I wanted to know the dates when this particular drain, from where skulls and bodies were recovered, was cleaned in Nithari. But instead, I was told that it has been cleaned,” Batra told reporters after meeting the officials of the commission. He had filed a case with the SIC on May 21 last year after the Noida Development Authority did not provide him with any details.
“To my surprise, my first hearing was on December 3, 2007, followed by the second on December 4. The final hearing was held on January 4, where the case was dismissed and still I have not got the information, which is a vital link in the Nithari killings,” Batra added.
New Delhi, Feb. 17: Right to Information activists have written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to ensure that justice is delivered to victims of the Nithari killings and asking him to look into the governance as various concerned authorities fell short of their responsibility.
The RTI activists are continuing their "Campaign for accountability of Public Authorities" vi Nithari killings. RTI activists such as retired commodore Lokesh Batra said that this is an on going campaign till justice is met.
He said, "All fact-finding missions that have gone into the matter using Right to Information Act 2005, have found that various concerned authorities have fallen short of their responsibility."
In this process the real culprits who are within our governance system, who could have saved many lives if they had rightfully done their duty, are getting away scot-free. So where is justice for victims of this outrageous crime, Mr Batra questioned. "We felt the time has come to wake up from our slumber and take stock of where we are and what more needs to be done to prevent more Nitharis," he said.
Explaining their stand, Mr Batra said, "We feel that all of us who are fighting battle after battle for justice in the society, must come forward with a campaign to get justice for Nithari victims and that is to expose those public authorities (PAs), within our governance who failed us and also those individuals responsible for this failure. They must not be allowed to go unpunished. Some of these PAs are the police, NCW, Noida Authority & Administration. In this context, on February 15, 2008, we wrote an appeal letter to the Prime Minister," Mr Batra said.
Nithari case: RWAs, social activists, NGOs write to PMO
Noida, February 17 Social activists, business heads and other prominent citizens have written to the Prime Minister’s Office seeking a “free probe” into the Nithari killings. It reads: “All fact finding missions that have gone into the matter using the Right To Information Act 2005, have found that various concerned authorities have fallen short of their responsibility.”
The letter, which was signed by the protesters, has demanded for “accountability of public authorities in handling the issue”.
The activists had protested outside the State Information Commissioner’s office in Lucknow on Friday over the issue.
Commodore Lokesh Batra, one of the signatories to the application, said, “The real culprits who are within our governance system could have saved many lives if they had rightfully done their duty. But now, they are getting away scot-free.”
The campaign has been initiated to “wake from slumber and take stock of where we are and what more needs to be done to prevent more Nitharis,” Batra said.
Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey, who is based in Lucknow and runs an organisation called Asha Parivar, said, “We felt that all of us who are fighting battle after battle for justice in society must come forward with a campaign to get justice for the Nithari victims. This can be done only by exposing those public authorities within our governance who failed us and also all those individuals responsible for this failure. They must not be allowed to go unpunished.”
The signatories include over 70 prominent citizens like Nirmala Deshpande, Swami Agnivesh, Dr V Mohini Giri, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Sandeep Pandey, Arvind Kejriwal, Retired Naval Commodore Lokesh Batra, Jayant Bhushan, Reena George, Prakash Singh, Madhu Bhadhuri, actress Nandita Das, Razia Ismail, Amit Bhadhuri, senior retired IFS, IAS, IPS and Defence Officers, Noida Citizens’ Forum, Federation of Noida RWAs and several NGOs.