Activists in the state face a bleak scenario after Nanded activist Ramdas Ghadegaonkar’s was brutally murdered.
With Ramdas’ death, the number of activists killed in the country has touched eight this year alone. Maharashtra has been at the centre of such killings, with four out of these eight taking place here.
Ramdas, also a Shiv Sena leader, had been exposing the sand mining mafia in Nanded. He had started a movement against the mafia, a few days before his body was found under Hingoli Bridge on Friday.
Maharashtra was one of the first states to adopt the Right to Information Act, even before the Parliament passed it in 2005. Activists in the city are shaken.
Borivli activist Raja John Bunch, who was attacked while he tried to uncover the illegal constructions in the Vasai-Virar belt, said: “These attacks once again point to the vulnerability of activists. If activists aren’t safe in the CM’s backyard, then there is little else to say.”
Gujarat, said to be progressive, follows Maharashtra in the number of killings. The recent one being that of activist Amit Jethwa, who was murdered after he exposed the illegal mining in parts of Gujarat. “Where there is more money, there are more misdeeds by private and public entities. As a result, more misdemeanors are to be exposed,” said activist Gaurang Vora.
Activists say not enough is being done to prevent these attacks. “There have been several statements about how protection nets will be strengthened for activists. However, nothing has been done on this yet,” said Vora. Rao said the whistleblowers’ protection Bill could be a solution.