Several well-known activists have threatened to boycott Prime Minister Narendra Modi's inaugural address on 16 October at the annual Right to Information or RTI convention since only seven of them have been invited for it.
Renowned activist Aruna Roy expressed her dismay over the limited number of activists who have been invited to the convention. She said at a press conference on 15 October that the Intelligence Bureau or IB had run background checks on activists and many had not been invited for security reasons.
"It is severely restricted, only seven have been invited. The contribution of civil society has been appreciated by everyone," she said adding, "We do not understand why this Intelligence check was necessary. There have never been such measures before."
According to media reports, Roy and five others activists who have been invited for the session have said they will boycott it in solidarity with those who did not receive an invitation.
"The Chief Information Commissioner reportedly wanted to invite more activists, but government did not allow it. This is the government's interference in the CIC," the 69-year old activist alleged.
According to a report published with NDTV, Rakesh Dubbudu, an RTI activist from Hyderabad who has not made the list, said that the IB officers visited him and questioned him about his parents' profession and their opinion about the government. Dubbudu reportedly said that he was surprised, because he has been working for some time now with the state government, which recommended him for participation in the two-day convention, organised by the Central Information Commission.
It is surprising, since more than 200 RTI activists have attended the inaugural session of the annual event, usually addressed by the President or Prime Minister. The convention takes stock of RTI, an important tool for citizens to fight corruption and seek transparency.
This year's session is more significant as it celebrates the 10th anniversary of the RTI Act. PM Modi, who was to travel to Bihar, has reportedly changed his schedule to attend the convention.
It was not held last year because the Chief Information Commissioner had retired and no one had been appointed in his place by then.