RAIPUR:Two days after a lawyer sought to expose Chhattisgarh home minister Ramsevak Paikra with an RTI reply on spending of his discretionary fund, police have slapped charges against him under ST/SC Act and arrested him on Friday. He was also accused of using forged certificates. The Surguja-based advocate had circulated copies of RTI reply purportedly showing that the minister had given away his discretionary funds of Rs 1 crore to his family members and wealthy party supporters.

RTI activist DK Soni had called for a press conference on Tuesday when local police forcibly shut down the conference venue. Police said that he has been charged with a case under Sections of 294 and 506 of atrocities against ST/ SC Act and handed him the notice. Though he later held the conference at another venue indicating that he was under threat to have raised voiced against a powerful minister in state.

Human rights activists have condemned the arrest saying that activists don’t have freedom in Chhattisgarh and if they raise voice, they will be either pushed behind bars or labelled as Maoist.

Talking to TOI, DK Soni after his arrest, said, “State government is trying to pressurise me to compromise in the matter and when it couldn’t convince me, it tried force. I was never rounded up before exposing the scam. Team of crime branch picked me in morning from Gandhi Chowk. I have already submitted my law certificates and gave statement at ST/SC police station. Moreover, I never met or spoke to the person who has lodged a case against me claiming that I have misbehaved with him.”

Soni alleged that his life was under threat and anything could happen to him.

Through an RTI reply, Soni has exposed how Ramsevak Paikra has wrongly used the discretionary funds and distributed to his close aides, which was supposedly to be given away to people below poverty line, needy children and distressed or widowed women.

“While as per the rules, a cabinet minister get Rs one crore a year for discretionary funds and it can’t be given to political person or religious organizations. But Paikra purportedly gave away the funds to all those who are barred as per the rule, violating the norms,” Soni said.

According to the RTI papers, Paikra had given Rs 1 crore from his discretionary funds on 161 persons in 2014-15 of which 79 persons were not eligible. Similarly, 327 were given funds in 2015-16. Most of these people include prominent party workers, wealthy people, advocates, contractors, government servants and few families in particular who were favoured every year since the minister came to power.

Listing names and occupations of those who received the funds, Soni also claimed that Paikra had disproportionate assets in the name of his wife, daughter, son and politician friends.

“This includes hundreds acre of land worth crores and at least five petrol pumps in different parts of state. I have demanded for high-level investigation in this case of corruption and have written to President, Prime Minister, CBI director, Governor, chief minister Raman Singh and leader of opposition TS Singhdeo. I also asked for security for me and my family as I anticipate danger on us,” Soni said.

Calling it a ‘jungleraj’ like situation Mamta Sharma, state co-ordinator of forum for fast justice and social activist said, “I am going to file a PIL in high court for implementation of Whistle Blower Act in state which is pending for long. The condition in Chhattisgarh has turned worse for activist who raises voice against IAS officers or powerful people like ministers. This doesn’t let an activist to work honestly and is often pushed behind bars. We will come together and fight for the release of DK Soni.”http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/raipur/Chhattisgarh-activist-who-blew-lid-off-home-mins-scam-arrested-in-Surguja/articleshow/52907828.cms