RTI activist among 2 shot dead in Bihar’s Jamui; panchayat head, JD(U) leader detained
A right to information (RTI) activist and his friend were shot dead by unidentified men in Maoists-affected Jamui district of Bihar late on Sunday night, police said on Monday, in the fourth such crime in the last six months.
According to the police, Valmiki Yadav, 38, and Dharmendra Yadav alias Karu Yadav, 35, were attacked near Bichhwe Mod in Sikandara police station limits of Jamui district, 166km southeast of state capital Patna.
Valmiki died on the spot and Dharmendra succumbed to his injuries on the way to a primary healthcare centre, they added.
“Prima facie, it seems to be a pre-planned conspiracy,” Jamui sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) Ram Pukar Singh said, adding that hired men could have been used in the crime.
Singh said Bicchwe panchayat head Krishna Ravidas, Janata Dal(United)’s Sikandra block unit president Suresh Mahto and two others have been detained for interrogation in connection with the killings.
Valmiki is said to have exposed several rackets and financial irregularities in public welfare schemes and development work in the district. He was also involved in a tiff with some villagers, including the panchayat head, over the selection of anganwadi sevikas.
Jamui superintendent of police (SP) Jagunatharaddi Jalaraddi said Valmiki’s family members suspected more than eight men were involved in the crime.
“The motive behind the murder is yet to be ascertained. We will leave no stone unturned to track down the persons responsible for the heinous crime,” said Jalaraddi.
An investigation has been launched into the incident, he added.
Shiv Prakash Rai, convenor of Nagrik Adhikar Manch and RTI activist from Buxar, said 14 RTI activists have lost their lives in Bihar in the last ten years. Rai claimed the government has not done enough to protect the whistleblowers.
Three RTI activists— Rahul Jha of Saharsa, Jayant Kumar of Vaishali and Rajendra Singh of East Champaran—have been killed in the state since January 2018.
The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information has written a letter to chief minister Nitish Kumar for effective implementation of the whistleblower’s protection act after the recent killings of RTI activists.