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8 RTI activists killed in 7 months

J. Balaji

NEW DELHI: With the cold-blooded murder of Right to Information (RTI) activist Amit Jethwa near the Gujarat High Court in Ahmedabad this past Tuesday, the number of such killings of whistleblowers has gone up to eight just this year alone.

The Congress-ruled Maharashtra tops the list with four killings, followed by the BJP-ruled Gujarat with two.

The murdered RTI activists were: Datta Patil of Kolhapur (Maharashtra), killed on May 31; Vitthal Gite of Beed district, Maharashtra, on April 21; Sola Ranga Rao of Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh, on April 11; Arun Sawant of Badlapur, Maharashtra, on February 26; Shashidhar Mishra of Begusarai, Bihar, on February 14; Vishram Laxman Dodiya of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, on February 11; and Satish Shetty of Pune, Maharashtra, killed on January 13.

RTI activist Krishnaraja Rao points out that after every murder the respective State Government gave a standard reply: “Matter is under investigation. We will find the culprits.” He alleges that this is nothing but eyewash. In most cases, the top brass knew exactly what was going on. “By not penalising slippery public information officers and not compelling evasive public authorities to provide information, the State Information Commissioners too blunt the RTI activist's sword and prolong his battle for years, until somebody gets him in the end,” he complains.

Meanwhile, various NGOs and human rights organisations are planning to undertake a rally from ITO in New Delhi this coming Monday at 6 p.m. to condemn the brutal killing of Amit Jethwa.

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