Consistent battle for information has unravelled several intriguing truth in the past five years when the RTI Act was passed. The young RTI ‘Maverick’ Afroz Alam Sahil, who has to his credit the post-mortem report of the deceased in the Batla House Encounter, has got another piece of information which is both surprising and reveals the sorry state of affairs of the Delhi Minority Commission (DMC).
Afroz had filed a petition under RTI Act 2005 to enquire about the ‘Fact Finding’ team that was supposedly constituted to ‘assess and analyse facts of the Police action’ inside Flat No L-18 of the Batla House, where the encounter took place. Many locals and human rights activists have questioned the Police version and believe that the encounter was ‘fake’. The reply that Afroz has got says that no fact finding team ever visited the site or talked to locals and never submitted any report. On the question of who comprised of the ‘fact finding’ team it further gives references tosection 8 (b & h) of the RTI Act, which allows the authority to withhold information if prohibited by a tribunal or court; or the reply may endanger the life of the person(s) concerned, respectively.
Interestingly Afroz has a copy of the document which has names of all the members of the said team. Says Afroz, “The report that I had got from the NHRC has a page which says that a fact Finding team would analyse facts and atmosphere, but the subsequent report was missing”. This prompted him to file a separate RTI, but it seems the endeavour has gone waste.
After repeated denial by the Delhi Police and AIIMS, Afroz had filed a RTI with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) requesting them to supply information based on which the NHRC has formulated its report and concluded that the encounter was not fake, as largely believed. The copy of documents that he had received comprised of reports submitted by the Additional Commissioner of Police (Vigilance), Special Commissioner of Police (Vigilance), Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime), Deputy Commissioner of police (Vigilance), Joint Commissioner of Police and Deputy Secretary (Home) of the NCT of Delhi. It also had copies of the post-mortem reports of alleged terrorists and Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma.
The same report has the copy of a letter that talks about the said ‘Fact Finding Committee’ and their objective. But it contains no report. According to this document, the team comprised of four members – Maqsood Ahmed, Dr D. K. Panday, Dr Mahender Singh and Rev. Manoj Malaki. The document dated 5 November, 2008 is signed by then Secretary of DMC Sanjay Pratap Singh. When asked if such a team was actually constituted, Kamal Faruqui, who was the Chairman of the DMC at the time refused to comment.
A member of the supposed Committee, on the assurance of anonymity, told this reporter that the “DMC never seemed serious and that we were never provided any resources. Further the Committee was soon dissolved”.