RTI Warriors II – ‘Fighting Evil Is Never Easy’

  I was in Class VI, when I was attacked and my family was threatened by a group of miscreants.

The reason: we wanted the cruelty inflicted on animals for training to end. It was a scary experience, the threats shook us but my father was undeterred. In Faridabad, Haryana, being an animal rights activist couldn’t be easy. But then, challenging the corrupt and standing up against age-old discriminatory practices have never been easy anywhere in the country.

Right to Information (RTI) came handy in our fight for the voiceless. We found it to be an important tool that could bring about change. My series of RTIs against kalandars (a term for street performers, acrobats and animal trainers), who illegally captured bears and tortured them to perform dance on the street, had irked the community. Though we managed to stop the practice and got many bears rescued, we had ruffled many a feather.

A group of irate kalandars attacked our home and threatened my family to leave the place immediately or worse would follow. These threats got louder and scarier by each passing day. Finally, my father, Naresh Kadyan, who is also an animal activist, decided to sell our bungalow in Faridabad. We moved to a better and a more secure residential apartment in Delhi.

Our new house was small but safe. For the next couple of years, it became our battleground for our fight against the system. I have been filing RTIs related to animal cruelty and human rights violation. I consider myself fortunate that my efforts have yielded positive results. One of my RTI applications resulted in ban of quail farming.

The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), which provided financial assistance to beneficiaries willing to take up quail farming, decided to withdraw fund quail farms. In 2013, I took up the cause of saving elephants. Elephants in India are being treated like cows, buffalos and goats. This has led to rampant trading of elephants much like cattle.

The pachyderm belongs to the wild and trading them is a violation of their rights. The animal has been killed by speeding trucks in NCR. We are fighting to save them through multiple means: from RTIs to crowd petitioning via Change.org. Meanwhile, I got married and have moved to Ahmedabad but my mission continues.

Of late, I realised that getting information through RTIs is getting more difficult. Our bureaucracy has devised new ways to circumvent, twist and hide the truth. At the legislature level, too, attempts are being made to dilute its provisions. Clearly, some truths are bothersome to people in power. In spite of the hurdles, I know this is the purpose of my life. If babus find a way to avert disclosure of truth, we shall find another way to uncover it. This is an ongoing battle. We are at it.

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