Afroz Alam Sahil, BeyondHeadlines
Mumbai: Mumbai-based 49-year-old Mohammad Afzal, human rights and Right to Information Act (RTI) activist, always had a passion to serve the society. He started working for society from 1980 itself.
Says Afzal: “In addition to managing livelihood, I was also actively involved in social work. God and my country have given me so much, and it becomes the duty of every individual to pay back in some way. I have been in the social service for the past 30 years, and I strongly believe that we have some responsibility towards the country and the society at large.”
In early days, Afzal, who operated a well-established tour and travel business, started taking up social causes in his spare time. He began his social service with the Consumer Guidance Society of India. He worked for three years (1980 to 1983), representing the Complaints Committee. In 1990, he shifted his business to real estate so that he could contribute all his time towards Consumer Guidance Society and taking up human rights violations issues.
Afzal has been actively working as an RTI activist for proper implementation of the Right to Information Act, 2005, from its inception year i.e. Maharashtra Right to Information Act 2002.
He was representing the International Consumer Right Protection Council as its chief coordinator for Mumbai and had been actively working since 2005 to eradicate obscenity from hoardings, print and electronic media.
Afzal has been instrumental in stopping phonographic video clippings from being shown in iShare internet site with the help of the Social Service Branch. He is associated with a group called Ashilita Virodhi Manch, which has now been renamed as Hamare Sanskruti as a registered NGO. Afzal is also associated with the Welfare Organization For Road Safety & Prevention of Accidents (WORSPA) as the General Secretary and has been holding a seat in the Managing Committee of the Passengers and Traffic Relief Association since 2008. He is representing in several Govt. Committees namely MCGM Apex Committee, RSP Traffic Advisory Committee as well as District Road Safety Committee.
Afzal has filed hundreds of RTI queries on different social issues in Maharashtra. He said: “I am happy that now Muslims are aware of the importance of education and are encouraging children to go for higher education. No religion encourages terrorism, and what is required is we Muslims and Hindu brothers and sisters should think rationally that destruction leads nowhere. We all should join hands with the government and see how we can progress so that India shines. Policies and politics of hatred and corruption need to be weeded out from our society and then only the nation will move forward.”
He is small believer in “Do not think what the country can do for you, think what you can do for the country.”