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HindustanTimes Wed,30 Jul 2014

RTI activist found hanging in Pune

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Pune, March 25, 2014
First Published: 20:32 IST(25/3/2014) | Last Updated: 20:36 IST(25/3/2014)

Pune-based Right to Information (RTI) activist Vilas Baravkar was found hanging at his home on Tuesday morning. In his suicide note, he has named 52 persons who allegedly abetted him to end his life.

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Senior state politicians, bureaucrats and police officials are among the 52 persons named by Baravkar in the suicide note that was written on stamp paper.

The police, however, have not filed a complaint against anyone named in the note.

Baravkar, according his son Sushil, wrote in the suicide note that he had to take this step after constant threats to his life, as he had sought information about several issues through RTI applications, especially illegal constructions in Chakan area.

"Only yesterday, he (Vilas Baravkar) told me that he was constantly receiving threats from politicians and police officials," said Sushil Baravkar.

The family has demanded thorough probe in Baravkar's allegations mentioned in the suicide note.

Threats and attacks have been scaring off transparency seekers. Commonwealth human rights initiative (CHRI) records say about 250 individuals have been allegedly attacked, harassed (physically or mentally), their properties allegedly damaged and some even allegedly murdered for seeking information under RTI.

Most (52) of the attacks occurred in Maharashtra (including eight alleged murders), followed by 34 in Gujarat.

"Most of these attacks happened while exposing illegal mining in forested areas, targeting the land mafia, exposing scams at the gram panchayat level among others," said Venkatesh Nayak, coordinator CHRI's access to information programme.


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