Srinagar: The state government’s attitude towards its official language, Urdu, can be gauged from the fact that it is yet to translate the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act manual into it.
To make it easy for people to understand the law, the governments were asked to disseminate information about it in user-friendly guides written in official languages of the states.
However, a study, “State of Information Commission and the Use of RTI Laws in India”, conducted by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has told the State Information Commission that if Nagaland can translate it into various dialects spoken by its people, there is no reason why Jammu and Kashmir and other states can’t do the same.
State Chief Information Commissioner GR Sufi blamed the government for not translating the Act in Urdu.
“The government had earmarked an amount of Rs 15 lakh but I returned a major chunk of it because translating the manual is government’s duty,” Sufi said.
According to chairman JK RTI Movement Dr Sheikh Ghulam Rasool, the State Information Commission is a powerful body and it should pressurise the government into publishing RTI manuals in Urdu.
The study has also said that the Central Information Commission has not translated user manuals or RTI laws into Kashmiri either. Sufi said he would take up the issue with the CIC in a meeting shortly.
The CHRI report said information commissioners have not disclosed assets and liabilities, which is a vital part of the RTI laws. Such a disclosure is missing from the website of the State Information Commission for the years 2014 and 2015. The website’s content is available in none of the local languages.
According to Sheikh, the SIC only endorses printed application rather than handwritten ones.
“It’s quite disappointing. For an ordinary and uneducated population, especially from remote areas, this pattern is quite cumbersome. So what happens is that people shy away from filing appeals or complaints,” he said.
Sufi said the state-owned Doordarshan has not provided a time slot for creating awareness, although the CIC has been allotted time on Saturdays by the state broadcaster.