Even before the euphoria over the Whistleblower Bill could settle down, an incident of victimisation and persecution of whistleblowera has come to light. This time from Meghalaya.
Three tribal women from Jongsha village, in East Khasi Hills district, had been ostracised by the traditional tribal village court (called 'Dorbar' in Khasi parlance) for unearthing a scam in the implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
The anomalies in implementation of MGNERGS in the village came to light when the three women – Fatima Mynsong, Acquiline Songthiang and Matilda Suting, filed an RTI query with the Block Development Officer. Since then, the three women and their families have been facing social boycott by the villagers on the order of the 'dorbar'. The 'dorbar' has prohibited the women and their families from availing ration from the fair price shops, benefits of Anganwadi centre and facilities of public transport, besides imposing other social as well as economic restrictions.
Ironically, many of those villagers who are now boycotting the three women, had been at the receiving end of corruption, allegedly being perpetrated by the village headman Karmelin Rynjah.
Rynjah, however, defended the verdict of the 'dorbar', saying it was a "decision of the majority," besides pleading innocence in the corruption case.
Official sources said the RTI query filed by the victims revealed that there was no accountability on the part of the village employment council with regard to implementation of MGNREGS.
"Signatures had been forged to avail benefits of the MGNREGS by the village employment council. There were also various financial and procedural irregularities in the implementation of the scheme," an official in the state community and rural development department said, while attesting the findings of the three women.
The victims have now approached Meghalaya Right to Information Movement, an NGO, for help. With whistleblowers increasingly being targeted by the accused, the Centre had last month introduced a landmark Bill in the Lok Sabha to provide safeguards against victimisation of persons reporting corruption by public servants and punishment for revealing identity of complainants.
The Bill was tabled days after RTI activist Amit Jethwa was killed in outside a court complex in Ahmedabad for exposing illegal mining in Gir sanctuary.