Mumbai resident Ajay Kumar was seized by the desire to know: was the Indian government prepared for a zombie apocalypse?
Kumar filed a Right to Information application with the Home Ministry, asking if an invasion by “Alien Zombies” and “Extra Dimensional Beings” can be handled without involving Hollywood actor Will Smith. The application, which subsequently went viral on social media, was met with a terse response from the ministry, which said it can only give out information that is not hypothetical in nature.
The Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju also responded to Kumar's application with a tweet: "The subject matter is too scientific."
Rijiju added that such RTI queries were a waste of the government's time.
On social media, Kumar's public interest litigation was hailed as revolutionary by some, while others argued that the RTI Act would be diluted by such frivolous inquiries.
In fact, Kumar could arguably be seeking information on the country's military preparedness – disclosure about which could affect the security and strategic interest of the State, so an RTI query to this effect is qualified for exemption under Section-8(1)(a) of the Act.
Kumar clarified to the Huffington Post that his request was meant as a protest: "I filed the RTI as an act of political protest against the entire intolerance fiasco," he said.
Kumar said he was shocked that his RTI had been leaked.
"This goes against the entire spirit of the RTI procedure," he said. "This may have been leaked in jest but the leaking of RTI requests could have serious consequences for someone's lives."
Rijiju's tweet clearly carried Kumar's name in the RTI application, while his address, email ID and mobile number were blurred.
Kumar is a veteran in the art of filing RTI requests. A few months ago, he filed an application asking if Bharat Mata was a protected emblem or insignia in India. He also asked officials to clarify the difference between Jai Hind and Bharat Mata Ki Jai.
"Is there any official memorandum or direction by the Government of India to say Bharat Mata Ki Jai?"
Then too, the Home ministry had responded to Kumar saying they had no clear answers.
Twitter responded to Rijiju's tweet with zombie apocalypse guides, and requests asking Hollywood actor Will Smith, famous for his zombie-fighting skills, to step in.
The image of the RTI was first posted on the Facebook page of YouRTI.in, a site that allows citizens to submit online RTI requests. It was then circulated on social media with a tweet by journalist Abhimanyu Ghoshal.