RTI martyrs: Eight killed this year alone | delhi | Hindustan Times
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RTI martyrs: Eight killed this year alone

On July 20, Right to Information (RTI) activist Amit Jethwa (33) was shot dead outside the Gujarat High Court in Ahmedabad. He had been an active crusader against illegal mining in the Gir forest. His family has alleged that BJP MP Dinu Solanki is behind the murder.

delhi Updated: Jul 27, 2010 00:28 IST
Nagendar Sharma

On July 20, Right to Information (RTI) activist Amit Jethwa (33) was shot dead outside the Gujarat High Court in Ahmedabad. He had been an active crusader against illegal mining in the Gir forest. His family has alleged that BJP MP Dinu Solanki is behind the murder.

Jethwa’s murder is just the latest in a string of attacks on RTI activists. Eight activists have been killed this year alone. There have been 20 serious attacks across the country in the last seven months, said speakers at a protest rally in the Capital on Monday.

These attacks have exposed the dangerous aspect of India’s landmark transparency law, since it came into existence in October 2005. A dangerous nexus has been formed between corrupt officials, politicians and the mafia to stifle the voices of whistleblowers.

Transparency watchdog Central Information Commission (CIC) admits there is cause for concern. “The effect of RTI is surely visible. Those who don’t want the information to come out are resorting to very dangerous means,” said CIC chief Wajahat Habibullah.

Vishram Laxman Dodiya and Satish Shetty lived parallel lives: both fought to expose corruption, both knew this put their lives in danger and went to the police for protection, and both were murdered.

Dodiya (50), a Surat-based shopkeeper, was killed on February 11 following his refusal to withdraw an RTI application seeking information on illegal electricity connections in the city. Shetty (38), a noted Pune-based activist, refused to give up exposing land scams using RTI, despite repeated threats to his family. He was murdered on January 13.

"On the day of his murder, he (Dodiya) was called to the police station and officials tried to persuade him to withdraw his application. He refused. He was shot dead on his way back home," Dodiya's son said.

Shetty was killed while he was out on his morning walk. A whistleblower, he shot to the limelight when he exposed certain corrupt land deals in the Mumbai-Pune expressway project over a decade ago.

"The case that cost his life was about 1,800 acres of land that was acquired fraudulently by a company, and he was getting explosive information from government records," his brother Sandeep told Hindustan Times.