RTI activist Abhimanyu Panda shot dead outside his house in Odisha
RTI activist Abhimanyu Panda was standing in front of his home in Patrasahi village under Baliguda police station area when two bike-borne miscreants fired a bullet at him and sped away, said the police.
A 48-year-old RTI activist was shot dead by unidentified persons while he was standing in front of his home on Tuesday morning in Odisha, police said. RTI activist Abhimanyu Panda was standing in front of his home in Patrasahi village under Baliguda police station area when two bike-borne miscreants fired a bullet at him and sped away, said the police.
Hearing the sound of firing, locals rushed to the spot and took Panda to the Baliguda Hospital where doctors declared him brought dead’
Kandhamal superintendent of police Pratik Singh said the police are investigating the case from every angle, including the possibility of having enmity due to his RTI activism. “He was also a member of the managing committee of local Jagannath temple and we are also examining if that played a role in his killing. At the moment we are not ruling out anything,” said Singh.
Pradeep Pradhan, leading RTI activist and convener of Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhiyan, a forum of RTI activists, said RTI activists in Odisha are facing harassment and threats over their RTI applications. “In the last 3 years, at least 30 RTI activists in the state have been attacked after their vested interests were exposed by the RTI activists. The RTI activists are harassed, tortured and mercilessly beaten up by powerful people as police do not take action on their complaints. Despite several complaints to higher authorities for immediate investigation into FIRs lodged by RTI activists and ensuring their protection, the State government has not taken any steps in this regard,” said Pradhan.
In January 2015, Krupasindhu Sahu, an RTI activist of Nachhinga village in Cuttack district was murdered allegedly for procuring information that exposed corruption and financial misappropriation in the Bringing 2nd Green Revolution in East India (BGREI) funds. Sahu was killed a month after the murder of another RTI activist Ganesh Chandra Panda from Rangeilunda village of Ganjam district, over exposing corruption in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme.
In 2017, Suresh Lenka, an RTI activist from Jagatsinghpur district faced brutal attack after his RTI applications revealed that ₹1 lakh was allegedly misappropriated by the local Sarpanch and Panchayat Executive officer from NREGA fund. His RTI activism also uncovered huge irregularities in the distribution of houses under Biju Pucca Yojana and Indira Awas Yojana.
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