The land mafia is back in action. These are not the words of activists but of the state’s Home Minister R.R. Patil.
Patil said this on Thursday, a day after the murder of 39-year old Satish Shetty, a Right To Information (RTI) activist from Pune, who had brought to light several cases of land grabbing.
This is the second attack on an activist in a week.
Last week, unidentified gunmen had fired on Mumbai-based activist Nayana Kathpalia’s house.
Kathpalia is the co-convenor of Citispace, an organisation working to preserve the city’s open spaces.
“These incidents are not acceptable,” Patil told journalists. “It only shows that the land mafia has sprung up with new vigour which we need to curb.”
On January 8, two unidentified armed men entered 66-year-old Kathpalia’s plush south Mumbai building and opened fire after her maid opened the door. Hours later, her colleague Neera Punj received a threatening phone call.
Punj has been receiving threats and has been a victim of stone pelting following Citispace’s protests against the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scheme being implemented on open spaces and for its opposition to illegal hawkers.
“The police are looking into both the incidents closely and we are sure we will get the assailants. We are not going
to spare the culprits,” said Patil.
The Pune police are still clueless about the identity of Shetty’s killers, 36 hours after the murder.
No arrests had been made until late on Thursday evening. Shetty was unmarried and used to run a dhaba (hotel).
Police Inspector Pradeep Aphale of Talegao Dabhade police station told Hindustan Times that there was no breakthrough in the investigation.
RTI activists from across the country are likely to visit Pune soon. Activist Anna Hazare, with whom Shetty worked, will also meet Chief Minister Ashok Chavan next week.
Shetty’s murder, meanwhile, has evoked strong reactions from various quarters.
“Citizens must demand effective action by the chief minister of Maharashtra within 19 days (not 19 years) to bring the culprits to book,” said Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi.