Maharashtra Info Chief Ratnakar Gaikwad Gets Journalist Sacked, warns “Mischievous” RTI Activists & Bloggers

Krishnaraj Rao

Mumbai. Stung by allegations of malfeasance in handing out MMRDA’s canteen contract, Maharashtra’s Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) Ratnakar Gaikwad wrote to Shailender Dhavan, Editor-In-Chief of Free Press Journal: “…to curb mischievous use of Right to Information and use of the media – print and or electronic – I intend to file a libel petition against your publication and the concerned RTI activists.” His stern email added, “I expect you to publish my expression as zealously as you published the news item”.

Gaikwad’s email

Even after the newspaper published an apology, RG wanted the head of Dharam Dhutia. Dhutia is the reporter who had mentioned Gaikwad’s daughter Shivanjali based on hearsay in this report:

It was mainly based on RTI activist Sulaiman Bhimani’s blog, which was full of documents:

Sources say that after RG called the newspapers proprietors (who naturally care more about government advertisement revenues than freedom of the press), Dhutia was summarily asked to resign. The desperate journalist spent all of Monday and Tuesday wandering about, pleading to have his job back. Accompanied by four senior journalists from mainline dailies, he made rounds of the State Information Commission and MMRDA. The delegation seems to be pinning its hopes on MMRDA’s Joint Director (Public Relations) Dilip Kawatkar to plead with Gaikwad on Dhutia’s behalf.

Will Dhutia get his job back?

Maybe, but after a quid pro quo; henceforth, all news items concerning Ratnakar Gaikwad will be sugar-sweet. Otherwise, FPJ may starve without the revenue from government advertisements.

But will Dhutia get his guts back? It may be awhile before he recovers and is again able to write without fear.

Other newspaper editors and proprietors will surely take the message,Darna zaroori hai! If you are a journalist, an RTI activist, or even a blogger, look at his smokin’ gun and be afraid, be very afraid… ‘coz the new sheriff is trigger-happy. Flashback to January 2009: MMRDA’s Metropolitan Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad called the police to arrest a group of anti-skywalk protesters, and charged them with “obstructing a government servant”. The protesters say they didn’t even raise their voice at the meeting held in his office; just introducing themselves as “shopkeepers and traders” had caused the chief to have a rage-attack. The next day’s papers ran this report:

So, people, you may freely abuse PM, CM, Sonia, Pawar, Chhagan and Magan, but choose your words with extreme caution when it comes to RG, the new sheriff in town with the smokin’ gun. Don’t forget that over and above all other IPC sections concerning government servants, he can invoke provisions of the Atrocities Act 1989. If that happens, the cops will put you behind bars first and ask questions later. Study this:

(Krishnaraj Rao is a prominent Right-to-Information activist and journalist based in Mumbai. He can be reached at )

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