Away from stone-pelting, fighting with the armed forces and militant attacks, a quiet revolution is on in the Valley and it is all due to a preacher-cum-faith healer who discovered the power of Right to Information (RTI).
In little over a decade, Ghulam Mohiudin Sheikh has created an army of 12,000 RTI warriors out of clueless villagers, most of them from his congregation of faithful, states a report in India Times.
Sheikh is fondly known as Peer Sahab, lives in the foothills of the Pir Panjal, some 25 km from Srinagar. Every Sunday, people visit his home to learn from him the art of filing RTI applications. The 45-year-old’s ‘students’ include the young and the old; men and women. They come from Budgam, Kupwara, Sopore, Baramulla and Anantnag.
“People come to me with all sorts of grievances. A BPL ration card, Indra Awas Yojana (IAY) or to do with Widow’s Welfare Fund,” says Sheikh, according to the report.
“A taveez (a chit of paper with verses of Holy Quran) cannot be a remedy for such problems.’
Sheikh became an activist only after he met Dr Shaikh Ghulam Rasool in 2006, who had launched the Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement on 21 November 2005.
“He suggested I join the RTI Movement and expose corruption and scandals in the Budgam administration. “I was hesitant but after a second meeting, I agreed and participated in training workshops to become an RTI activist,” he said.
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Since then Sheikh has been training people on how to file RTI applications.
“I started writing RTIs in Urdu and filed them in the Rural Development and Social Welfare departments with which people mostly have grievances,” said Sheikh.
“Muje nusqah milgaya, aur logon ko dard ka elaaj (I got the prescription and people got the treatment for their grievances),” he added.