RTI activist shot dead in East Champaran
An RTI (Right to Information) activist, who had exposed several cases of encroachment of government land, was shot dead by unidentified assailants in East Champaran district on Friday, police said.
The assailants, riding a motorcycle, shot Vipin Agrawal, 47, from a close range near at Harshidih while he was on his way back to home from the local block office, the police said, quoting eyewitnesses.
“Raids are on to arrest the assailants,” said Pramod Paswan, station house officer (SHO), Harshidih police station.
“Some locals saw him lying in a pool of blood on the road on Friday. He was rushed to primary health centre (PHC) and was referred to the sadar hospital at Motihari where he was declared brought dead,” SHO Paswan said.
“The RTI activist sustained four bullet injuries. We are looking at all angles,” said Abhinav Dhuman, a trainee Indian Police Service (IPS) officer posted as subdivisional police officer (SDPO), Areraj.
Agrawal, who has been working as an RTI activist since 2009, had survived an attempt on his life on February 16, 2020.
“He has fought a long battle to remove land encroachment in and around Harshidih area. Miscreants attacked and ransacked our house on February 16, 2020. His wife was dragged on the road in broad daylight. He had sued many people in this regard, but no one was arrested. We applied for protection several times, to no avail,” said Vijay Agrawal, the slain RTI activist’s father.
Vijay Agrawal said his son had brought to light houses illegally built on eight acres of land worth crores near Gudri Bazar, Jadavpur Road and Pakadia Road (in Harshidih area).
“In the 2020, a house situated on encroached land in Dhankhariya near Harshidih was demolished by the administration. Following a case filed with the Lokayukta in Patna, a petrol pump operating on encroached land was also sealed. Cases were also filed over a cold storage and residential house built on the encroached land,” he said.
The RTI activist had earlier lodged a complaint in the subdivisional court at Areraj, accusing nearly hundred local people of implicating him in a false case of murder.
When contacted, Navin Chand Jha, East Champaran’s superintendent of police, said, “A special investigation team has been formed under SDPO Areraj to probe the matter and arrest the assailants.”