Several National Advisory Council members have expressed anguish at learning that Maoists were behind the murder of Niyamat Ansari and deadly injury to his associate Bhukan Singh in Latehar district of Jharkhand for exposing alleged corruption in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
In a joint statement of 20 activists including NAC members Harsh Mander, Aruna Roy and Jean Dreze on Thursday also lambasted media organizations for framing Ansari and Singh as criminals.
"We are dismayed by the insidious allegations that have been made about Niyamat in sections of the mainstream media, attempting to project him as a "criminal" to divert attention from the real issues and culprits. These reports were factually incorrect and the concerned publication carried an apology the following day," the statement read, while condemning the attack.
They also said that the murder was culmination of a series of acts of harassment, including at least one earlier attempt on Bhukhan and Niyamat's lives.
"Bhukhan and Niyamat fearlessly continued to fight for the rights of NREGA workers and to stand up against the nexus of corruption and crime in the area. Niyamat was killed just a few days after he and others exposed a flagrant NREGA scam in Rankikalan Gram Panchayat," the statement read.
An immediate arrest of the prime suspects named in the first information report (FIR), a CBI inquiry, compensation for Niyamat's family and protection for Singh were also demanded.