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Monday, January 18, 2010

Activists rally after recent attacks

Getting lawyers on their payroll and officers who specifically protect activists, were some of the ideas discussed by city NGOs
Linah Baliga

In the wake of recent attacks on activists, where Pune-based Satish Shetty was killed and Citispaces' Nayana Kathpalia had a close shave, NGOs from all over Mumbai gathered, on Saturday, to formulate a memorandum to be submitted to chief minister Ashok Chavan, for their safety and protection.
A unanimous resolution was passed to explore the feasibility of forming a support system in defined areas that will aid those who fight for public causes. "This will involve ward-wise networking with senior police officials and lawyers, who will look into matters concerning issues of activists," Gerson DaCunha, coordinator, AGNI, said.
Krishnaraj Rao, a Right to Information (RTI) activist, suggested forming a Federation of Activists Association for protection of activists. "This federation will be indifferent to cause or methods employed. Let us think in terms of having lawyers on our payrolls to take up our causes," Rao said.
Former IPS officer and advocate YP Singh then suggested the idea of having a voting blog to vote for corrupt and good officials. "There will be eminent people on this panel who will bring corrupt police officials to the notice of the public. Such officials shouldn't be involved in investigations," said Singh.
Another idea proposed in the memorandum is to use, in a planned way, the order passed in favour of the activists during former police commissioner Hasan Gafoor's tenure, when AGNI activist James John was attacked. "Gafoor had passed an order where the additional commissioner of police had to name officers whose duties were to protect citizens working for causes," said DaCunha.
A general consensus was reached by activists on the idea of an ordinance that could become a legislation to protect activists. "We should also pledge to support activists fighting for a cause in our respective localities," said DM Sukhtankar, former municipal commissioner.

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