Week after RTI activist’s death, police say it was an ‘accident’

Updated on Feb 08, 2020 06:09 PM IST

Das had taken to RTI activism 8 years ago, filing a series of applications seeking information into the irregularities in the district.

Police officials in Kendrapara said Das’s post-mortem report indicated that he probably died of a road accident.(HT FILE PHOTO.)
Police officials in Kendrapara said Das’s post-mortem report indicated that he probably died of a road accident.(HT FILE PHOTO.)
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar | ByDebabrata Mohanty

A week after a 35-year-old RTI activist in Odisha was found dead by the roadside in coastal Kendrapara district, the police ruled out a case of murder and instead attributed it to an accident.

The body of Ranjan Kumar Das, a RTI activist known for filing multiple RTI applications into several irregularities in Kendrapara district was found just about 2 km from his home in Beruan village on the morning of February 1. Das was supposed to return home the previous night, but did not come back. His body with multiple injuries on his face along with his motorcycle was found in a ditch near his home.

Police officials in Kendrapara said Das’s post-mortem report indicated that he probably died of a road accident. The motorcycle-borne Das slipped into the field and sustained injuries which turned fatal, said Marshaghai police station inspector Kalindi Behera. “A three-member team of doctors of the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack conducted the post mortem. “But we are still investigating the case,” Behera said.

Das had taken to RTI activism 8 years ago, filing a series of applications seeking information into the irregularities in the district. Recently, he had lodged a case before the Odisha Lokayukta alleging encroachment of 1100 acres of government land by seafood exporter Falcone Marine in Mahakalpada for shrimp farming. He had also filed RTI applications seeking details of expenditure on roads built by the rural development department, quality of dry food for babies in Anganwadi centres as well as irregularities in government schemes like Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awaas Yojana.

RTI activists, however, were not convinced by the revelations of the police saying a concerted attempt is being made to close the case. “If Ranjan died in an accident, how was his vehicle found parked near his body. Besides, the injuries on his body showed he was thrashed. We don’t have any faith on the Odisha police and will soon petition the Orissa High Court for a CBI probe into the case,” Pradip Pradhan, a leading RTI activist said.

The family members of Das also dismissed the police probe saying the police did not probe into how CCTV cameras installed in his house was taken off just a couple of days before his death. “The police needs to look into why the CCTV cemara was taken away and the data erased. My son was murdered due to his RTI activism. It was surely not an accident,” the deceased activist’s father Laxmidhar Das said.

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