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17 families ostracised by Meghalaya village chief
Raju Das
 SHILLONG, July 5 – In another case of power abuse, a traditional chief has ostracised 17 families from the village in East Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya, for filing a Right To Information (RTI) application. A magisterial inquiry has been instituted into the matter.

The Rangbah Shnong (traditional head) of Dongrum locality of Mawsynram village, East Khasi Hills, Artowel Kharshandi convened a village meeting yesterday and ostracised the families for filing RTI.

A social organisation – Civil Society Women’s Organisation – has filed an FIR while the East Khasi Hills district administration ordered a magisterial inquiry headed by the Additional District Magistrate, CD Lyngwa to probe into the incident.

“We have instituted a magisterial inquiry after receiving information about the incident,” East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner, Jopthiaw Lyngdoh said.

The village chief took the decision after some of the villagers filed RTI to inquire about non-availability of rice, sugar and other items under the Public Distribution System (PDS) from the village fair price shop.

It was later learnt that the PDS items were lifted by the shop from 2002 and was not distributed to the villagers belonging to Below Poverty Line, Antyodaya Anna Yojana and Above Poverty Line families. The fair price shop incidentally is owned by the village chief’s wife, Asorda Marbaniang.

B Rani, one of the affected victims along with others from the locality, met officials from the Supply department here and filed a complaint. Based on it, the Deputy Commissioner ordered the magisterial inquiry.

Incidentally, this is the second incident in the State where a village chief has ostracised families for filing RTI. Last year, three women – Fatima Mynsong, Aquiline Songthiang and Matilda Suting – were ostracised from Jongksha village for seeking information under RTI to know about implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

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