Four days after unidentified persons fired outside the south Mumbai house of civic activist Nayana Kathpalia, Right To Information (RTI) activist Satish Shetty was murdered on Wednesday morning in Pune.
Shetty, who led a crusade against illegal land transactions in Pune district’s Lonavla region, lived in Talegaon Dabhade on the old Mumbai-Pune highway, 40 kms from Pune. The 39-year-old was returning from his morning walk on Wednesday when a group of unidentified persons attacked him with sharp weapons.
He sustained serious injuries all over the body. His brother, Sandeep, rushed him to Pawna Hospital at Somatane Phata, where doctors declared him dead on arrival. No arrests had been made until late on Wednesday night.
Sandeep lodged a complaint with Talegaon Dabhade police station saying that his brother had been receiving threatening phone calls for the past few days over a land transaction in Maval taluka (sub-district), on which he had sought information under RTI.
Sandeep, in his complaint, had named a city businessman closely associated with politicians.
Shetty, an activist of Bhrashtacharvirodhi Dakshata Samiti (anti-corruption vigilance committee), had used the RTI to force the government to take action against several illegal transactions. He was associated with anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare.
Shocked by the murder, RTI activists in Pune decided to meet on Friday to chalk out their next course of action. Vijay Kumbhar of the Surajya Sangharsha Samiti said that RTI activists across the country have been facing threats and the government should take steps to protect them.
Kumbhar said Shetty had exposed private parties that had encroached on government land in Maval and also irregular constructions in and around Lonavla. He said it was because of Shetty’s follow-up that action was taken against the illegal registration of land transactions.
An NGO MITRA [Movement against Intimidation, Threat and Revenge against Activists] has written to Chief Minister Ashok Chavan demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into Shetty’s murder.