Exclusive Interview With The Man Who Filed An RTI Against Amit Shah-Linked Bank
Recently, an RTI reply revealed that the Ahmedabad district cooperative bank (ADCB), which has Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah as a director, collected the highest amount in demonetised currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000. Mumbai activist, Manoranjan S Roy, who filed the RTI spoke to The Logical Indian about this revelation.
As per the reply given, ADCB bank collected the maximum deposit of Rs 745.59 crore of the scrapped notes in five days after Prime Minister Modi announced demonetisation on November 6, 2016. The withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 was done to stop the circulation of black money in the country.
Manoranjan Roy has been fighting against black money for many years. Recently, Manoranjan filled an RTI to get a response from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) regarding the money collected during the time of demonetisation. In the RTI response, NABARD gave a list of co-operative banks and the amount of money each collected. ADCB bank topped the list.
“I was hoping to find some discrepancy in the response, but I did not expect it to be this big,” said Manoranjan while talking to The Logical Indian. To his surprise, BJP president Amit Shah turned out to be one of the Directors of the bank.
According to the bank’s website, Shah continues to be a director with the bank and has been in that position for several years. He was also the bank’s chairman in 2000.
According to the response to Manoranjan’s RTI, the second bank that collected the highest money is Shri Rajkot District Cooperative Bank, amounting to Rs 693.19 crores. Interestingly, the chairman of SRDC bank, Jayeshbhai Vitthalbhai Radadiya is a cabinet minister in Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s government.
Manoranjan, who has been an RTI activist since 2007 says, “This is not the first time I was shocked by an RTI response. Just that, this time I felt that the truth was right in front of the public eye, but people were trying to ignore it.”
The RTI warrior
Earlier this year, Manoranjan had filed an RTI to the Election Commission of India and the companies responsible for the manufacturing of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). The response that he received raised many questions about the mismatch in the numbers of EVM machines purchased and the number of EVMs that were supplied.
According to the RTI, from 1989-1990 till 2014-2015, the ECI says it had received 1,005,662 EVMs from BEL, but BEL said it had supplied 1,969,932. There is a difference of 964,270 machines.
“I have moved to the Bombay High Court asking for the inquiry in the matter,” said Manoranjan. He says, “Sometimes when I file RTI the party involved in the scam (discrepancy) try to malign my image.”
In 2007, Manoranjan had filed another RTI application to get information on the difference between the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that the RBI had asked to be printed and the notes that the printing press minted and released. He found that the number of notes that were supposed to be released were less than what RBI initially quoted.
“I was astounded by the findings. There were major discrepancies, I even filed a PIL with the Bombay High Court in 2015.” However, his PIL was rejected by the court.
“My motive is to make our country better”
48-year-old, Manoranjan says he will keep filling RTI’s and will continue to question the government.
“I do this for common people like you and me. I have no political agenda behind this. I have questioned the Congress government and will continue to question the ruling BJP. I just want some transparency from our government,” he added.
Manoranjan, who is fond of old classical music, says, “I have struggled so much to dig into these scams. Sometimes I fear for my life but then I feel, I will die when my death will come, till then I can work for the nation.”
Repercussions of RTI
According to The Wire, the story about Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah’s links to a district cooperative bank which netted the highest demonetised currency was taken down by the websites like Times Now, News18.com, Firstpost and The New Indian Express on June 21, without offering any clarification.
However, NABARD defended ADCB, and by association, Amit Shah, when they released a statement which read, “NABARD conducted 100 per cent verification in ADCB which revealed that the bank had complied with all the KYC guidelines of the RBI while accepting the demonetised notes,” as reported by the Economic Times.