Monday, December 26, 2011

Malegaon suspect filed 702 RTI queries in 5 yrs

Farog Makhdoomi (centre) got 50 lakh pages of RTI answers

Mateen Hafeez TNN
: Unani doctor Farog Makhdoomi, a 2006 Malegaon bomb blasts suspect, had filed 702 right to Information (RTI) applications during his fiveyear imprisonment in various jails in the state. Makhdoomi, now 38, was released on bail along with six other accused last month. He received 50 lakh pages of RTI answers and references while in jail.

The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had claimed that Makhdoomi, son of a schoolteacher, was one of the prime conspirators in the blast conspiracy. However, claims by the ATS fell short during the course of investigation after Swami Aseemanand, member of a right wing outfit, confessed to his involvement in the blasts. A medical practitioner by profession, Makhdoomi kept filing RTI applications on various issues like food in the jails, Islamic banking, reservation for Muslims, Sachar commission, Mishra commission, the Indian system of medicine, distant education, etc.

Makhdoomi said, “My first RTI application was about the jail canteen’s food. Edibles worth Rs 40 were being sold for Rs 140. When I tried exposing the corruption in the Arthur Road jail, the then superintendent made our lives miserable.” He added that he did not receive a reply when he asked for the procedure followed for filling up the vacancies at the Malegaon civil hospital. The residents of Malegaon had been demanding that victims of the blasts should be given preference when there are vacancies at the hospital. He has also obtained the records of the detention of a co-accused “which prove that he was detained and kept in custody illegally”.

In February this year, Makhdoomi appeared for the PhD Entrance Test. Having completed his Bachelor of Unani Medicine degree in 1997, Makhdoomi studied for his MA in Urdu while in custody in 2009. He has been securing a first class so far and passed the PhD entrance as well. While in prison, he did his post graduate diploma in disaster management through IGNOU. He was also appointed the coordinator for distant education by the jail authorities and helped 80 inmates appear for various examinations.

Speaking about his applications, he said, “The state textile ministry, with funds of Rs 1,100 crore, announced plans for textile parks in 11 cities but ignored Malegaon, which is the second largest textile centre in the state. I realized this through my applications.”

The Times of India, December 26,2011