A Tribal woman in Meghalaya ostracise for filing RTI

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The quest for truth turns costly for a tribal woman was ostracized by a village dorbar just because she refused to pay a fine of Rs 5,000 for exposing corruption into the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) through RTI.

Thrina Suchen, a resident of Lama village in East Jaintia Hills was cut off socially after the dorbar shnong in November, last year allegedly ordered all residents of the village to stop buying vegetables and groceries from her shop.

“I was asked to pay Rs 5,000 as a fine for filing RTI against the implementation of the MGNREGS in my village. When I refused to comply, the dorbar shnong directed all residents not to buy vegetables and groceries and ultimately I had to shut down my shop,” Thrina told reporters on Friday.

According to her, the dorbar shnong also made a cunning move by not depriving her rights to get benefits of government schemes.

The mother of seven children had sought information under the RTI Act, 2005 on the various schemes implemented by the village employment council (VEC) under the NREGS.

“The RTI revealed that out of Rs 1, 56,000 sanctioned for construction of 13 toilets, only Rs 47,067 was deposited in the bank accounts of the job card holders whereas for the material it was showing nil. Similarly, for the construction of the Anganwadi house, only Rs 2.76 lakh was deposited as wages while only Rs 1 lakh was spent on materials out of Rs 7 lakh. So where is all the balance money gone,” she said.

Thrina further alleged many schemes are lying pending for completion despite most of the funds has already been spent. “Moreover, the job cardholders are not allowed to sign on receiving the wages as somebody had already did on their behalf,” she said.

She also informed that the dorbar shnong has also made all residents to sign a circular that nobody can file RTI without getting permission from the headman.

Before her, the dorbar shnong had ostracized six other persons from the village.

Asked, Thrina said that she had filed a complaint against the dorbar shnong’s decision to ostracise her before the deputy commissioner of East Jaintia Hills district on December 2, last year.

“However, till date, no magistrate had come to conduct the inquiry in the village. Instead, I had gone to the DC’s office on January 13 to give my statement before the magistrate. I told the magistrate that I am ready to resolve the differences but my fight against corruption will continue,” she stated.

She said that she had also filed a complaint against the alleged misappropriation of the scheme with the Block Development Officer, Khliehriat but no inquiry was conducted into the matter.

On being asked if she would seek the intervention of the Meghalaya Human Rights Commission (MHRC), Thrina said that she would be compelled to do so because she was ostracized just because she dares to expose the corruption in the implementation of the scheme.

According to her, the scheme is supposed to benefit the people of the state and not to be misused.