Thursday, January 14, 2010

NCPRI Statement on Murder of RTI Activist Satish Shetty

The National Campaign for People's Right to Information is deeply shocked and grieved at the brutal murder of Right to Information activist Satish Shetty.

Mr Shetty, 38, was killed by 3 unidentified men on the morning of January 13 in Talegaon, Pune. He had been actively using the Right to Information to expose land scams and fake registration cases in the Talegaon, Lonavla and Dehu Road regions of Maval. The DIG (Registration) stated that Shetty's complaints had initiated investigations that brought to light tax evasion and illegal sale of government land. The investigation in the Sabele Whaghire 500 acre land scam, that is still in progress, had also led to the suspension of a sub-registrar. Shetty had been a longstanding activist who had uncovered scams around the Mumbai-Pune expressway several years ago and had exposed the setting up of banquet halls and restaurants in residential areas. Besides, he had revealed cases of illegal selling of kerosene to bogus ration card holders and the abuse of power by government officials. He had been working on spreading awareness about the Right to Information and was a popular figure among Talegaon residents who regularly sought his help for solving their problems.

The murder of Satish Shetty is not an isolated incident of threat to life and liberty of people using the RTI to expose malfunctioning and corruption. All across India, RTI activists face threats and attack. However, too frequently, even where they ask for police protection on grounds of significant threats, it is denied them. In the present case, the DSP has admitted that despite Shetty's requests, protection had not been provided because the procedural police verification process takes time. This is not a good enough reason. The murder of Satish Shetty is a deeply painful but important instance of the potential of Right to Information to curb corrupt elements within government and society but also a reminder that those defending the law and blowing the whistle on wrongdoing must be assured adequate protection.

The NCPRI is determined that the killers of Satish Shetty will be brought to book and we will be watching the progress of the investigation. The Campaign trusts that the government shares our need to take immediate and stringent action in this regard and bears out its oft-stated commitment towards ensuring a corruption free democracy, where voices raised against corruption are not suppressed by brutal violence.

Ajit Bhattacharjea, Aruna Roy, Charul Bharwada, Harsh Mander, Jagdeep Chokkar, Jean Dreze, Maja Daruwala, Nikhil Dey, Prashant Bhushan, Shekhar Singh, Suman Sahai, Trilochan Sastry, Vinay Mahajan

On behalf of the Working Committee
National Campaign for People's Right to Information, 98103 82973

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I was deeply shaken by the murder of Satish Shetty. We must create pressure on government through media for stern action against the culprits as it happened in Ruchika's case. This is the time when self protection is also to be taken into consideration for RTI activists so that no one will dare to touch them.
I wish Shetty's murderer will be severly and timely punished.
- Kishor Wani  
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