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Information requester detained in Birgunj

Yet again, an information campaigner was verbally abused by a government employee and beat up and detained by a police person, for requesting information in Birgunj, a city in the southern plains of Nepal, on December 5.

Laxman Prasad Sharaf had reached the District Agriculture Office, Birgunj, with an information request letter but Chief at the Office, Dinesh Prasad Yadav, flatly rejected the request, saying there was no information officer at the Office.

Mr Sharaf had requested for the following information:
a)     The amount of budget allocated in the district through the  Office for the fiscal year of 2014/015
b)    Budget headings
c)    VDC-wise activity list
d)     Budget spent on different headings
e)    People given responsibility to spend the budget
f)    Activities done for the public people

But, going against citizen's right to receive information, Office Chief Yadav verbally abused information requester Sharaf, called a police person and got him detained for a day.

On a telephone conversation with Freedom Forum on Monday (Dec 8), Sharaf said, "The Office Chief not only denied the registration of information request letter but also called a police and got me detained for a day. While taking me under control, head constable named Harindra Prasad Yadav beat me and threatened me of physical action."

He further said he was released after the news spread about his illegal detention.

When talked over phone, Chief District Officer, Hemnath Dawadi, admitted with the Freedom Forum that he had to order the police to release Sharaf and he assured Sharaf of physical security and would urge the Agriculture Office to provide the information sought.

FF also urged the CDO Dawadi to provide security to the information seeker and help make public agencies transparent and accountable to the public.

Also for the facilitation, FF immediately sent Dinesh Yadav from neighbouring district Bara to the place of incident. He met with Sharaf and the Agriculture Office staff and garnered the information and provided input to this reporting.

FF condemns the incident for it violated citizen's rights to information, the fundamental rights; and strongly urges the concerned office to provide the information and makes it accountable to the public.