सोमवार, 31 जनवरी 2011


Register of Attacks on Activists in 2010 & 2011,
(up-to-date until 31 January ’11)


1.    26 Jan ’11, MURDEROUS ASSAULT ON DR AMARNATH PANDEY, Sonbhadra District, UP: Dr Pandey was shot at in Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh on Wedneday night. He was admitted to Benaras Hindu University hospital. Dr Amarnath, a homeopath by profession, exposed corruption in the NREGA work at Bhatauli village by the Block Development Officer and Village Pradhan.

2.    25 Jan ’11, MURDEROUS ASSAULT ON VIKRANT KARNIK, Thane Dist, Maharashtra: Vikrant Karnik was attacked near his home by three people with choppers and other sharp weapons outside his house at Ghantali, Thane. Karnik suffered severe stab wounds on the head, chest and face. His assailants hurled abuses at him before leaving him in a pool of blood. They quickly fled the scene. Locals took Karnik to the Thane civil hospital, where doctors attended to his injuries. Karnik has blamed the attack on a Mumbai-based builder and a local Shiv Sena leader, whose activities he sought to expose. Inspector Hemant Sawant of the Naupada police said Karnik told the cops that the builder was upset with him for filing RTI queries on his projects and collecting a dossier on violation of coastal regulation zone (CRZ) norms and other environmental rules. The projects are on the outskirts of Thane, Dombivli, etc, and among them is a multi-crore residential layout close to the Bhiwandi bypass. About the Sena leader, Karnik said it was on his instance that the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) made the former prime accused in a case of power theft. The Sena leader had allegedly ordered electricity to be stolen from lamp posts to light up a stage for a cultural programme. Karnik subsequently told the police that he feared for his safety as the Sena leader, along with his associates, had indirectly issued threats to him.

3.    17 Jan ’11, ASSAULT ON SAFDAR ALI, Doda Dist., J&K: Following an RTI application with the BDO concerning substandard construction of a water tank for the village, which collapsed a few days after it was constructed, Safdar Ali and others lodged a strong protest with the local block office. This resulted in the concerned BDO immediately pulling up the contractors . After some days, Safdar Ali was accosted by the village Bhandoga Numberdar (village head) Sonaullah Kashmiri who threatened him of dire consequences. On 15th January 2011, Ali and others contacted Masood Mirza SHO Police Station Thathri and sought police protection. On January 17, a group of three persons including a contractor and a member of Village Defence caught Ali in a village bylane, threatened him repeatedly, asked him to stop all his RTI related work and beat him black-and-blue. Later, Ali lodged an FIR in police station Thathri. An FIR was registered. Details: http://blog.jkrtimovement.org/?p=3869

4.    2 Jan ’11, ATTACK ON YASHWANT GAVAND, Bhandup, Mumbai:  Yashwant Gavand was attacked by about 30 persons connected to the local Shiv Sena Corporator Suresh Shinde. Gavand had successfully exposed, through RTI, several assets that were not declared to the Election Commission in the last election, including a 4,000 square-metre plot.

5.    2 Jan ’11, ATTACK ON ARUN BABURAO MANE, Pune Dist, Maharashtra: Arun Mane, 36, runs a footwear shop in Talegaon, Pune district, to earn a living. He had been trying to take forward the work started by RTI activist, Satish Shetty, who was murdered in Talegaon in January 2010. On January 2, a bloodied and hospitalised Mane with injuries to his head, chest and hand stated that he had been assaulted in his shop. The case took a bizarre turn two days later when he filed an affidavit saying that he had not been attacked but had inflicted the wounds on himself. He also withdrew two police cases against the unidentified assailants. While Pune superintendent of police Pratap Dighavkar said Mane had "self-inflicted the wounds as he was mentally unstable", Mane told The Mag that he had withdrawn the cases for the sake of his family's security. "For me, my family is more important than anything else. My family is in trauma and my mother is a heart patient. Therefore, I have withdrawn the cases for her sake and for the sake of my family's security. But the attack on me was genuine." Like Shetty who was murdered in Jan 2010, Mane had been seeking information about land acquisition around the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. His RTI application with the Lonavala police had asked three questions: a) What action have the police taken on the complaint filed by Satish Shetty? b) Had Shetty filed a criminal complaint against a person and a company related to IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd? and c) Are cases pertaining to the mentioned crimes pending in courts? If yes, then who is handling the cases?


1)   20 Dec ’10, ASSAULT ON ABDUL GHANAI MIR, Doda Dist., J&K:  Some months earlier, Abdul Ghanai Mir and Shiv Kumar Kotwal had submitted an RTI application in the office of District Rural Development Agency Dona (DRDA), Doda city for seeking information about the Haryali scheme meant for the poor people. The RTI sought to expose misappropriation and mis-utilization of funds in respect of plantation, digging of water tanks, etc and grabbing huge amounts from the beneficiaries for approval of their cases. As a result, Abdul was given a thrashing by officials of DRDA and Horticulture in the District. Later, when the incident was reported in the newspapers, Dr Pawan Kotwal, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, ordered an inquiry into the matter. Details http://blog.jkrtimovement.org/?p=3591 and  http://blog.jkrtimovement.org/?p=3771

2)   18 Dec ’10, “ACCIDENTAL” POLICE KILLING OF IRFAN YUSUF QAZI, Ratnagiri Dist, Maharashtra: Irfan, 40, was going to pick up his kids from school when his scooter was hit by a police jeep, said Pradeep Indulkar, head of the Konkan Anti-Nuclear Power Project Committee. The incident occurred in Nate village in Rajapur taluka of Ratnagiri, around 275 kms south of Mumbai. Qazi was rushed to a primary health care centre around two km away where he succumbed to his injuries within minutes. He was the nephew of Rajapur Congress chief Saifuddin Qazi, a prominent local leader and the entire family is involved in the protests against the upcoming nuclear plant at Jaitapur. Villagers protested against police removing the vehicle from the scene of the accident, alleging that evidence was sought to be destroyed. The agitators stoned and then later set ablaze the police jeep involved in the accident, demanding action against the local police officials, who resorted to the baton-charge. Undeterred by police caning, the villagers squatted on the main road and blocked traffic for over five hours, said one of the protesters, Amjad Borkar. Qazi's body has been taken for autopsy in a district hospital.

3)   25 Nov ’10, ASSAULT ON ALI MOHD DAR, Budgam Dist, J&K: After submitting an RTI application to the Tehsildar of Khag that ultimately exposed several government employees improperly included on the BPL list, Ali Mohammad Dar, brother of RTI applicant Nazir Ahmad Sheikh, was assaulted by a group of men. The SHO refused to register the FIR for 24 hours until IGP of Kashmir intervened.  The culprits were eventually caught.  Details: http://blog.jkrtimovement.org/?p=3498

4)   27 Aug ’10, MURDER OF RAMDAS PATIL GHADEGAONKAR, Nanded Dist, Maharashtra: Ramdas Patil Ghadegaonkar, 35, sold milk near the Godavari River in the western state of Maharasthra. After seeing some companies using heavy machinery to dredge sand from the river, he became worried about how it would affect farming in the area, and sought information on sand harvesting regulations. When he found out that mechanized dredging wasnt allowed, he filed a complaint against a company with the district authority, which fined the company and stopped the dredging. On the night of Aug. 27, local police found Ghadegaonkars body under a bridge, evidently with no external injuries. Fellow RTI activists say he was killed in retaliation for blocking the dredging. Police say they havent determined whether his death was connected to his activism, but are investigating whether he was poisoned. Nanded is the hometown and erstwhile constituency of Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. It’s still a Congress bastion. And Ghadegaonkar was a member of the Shiv Sena. So an angry protest has been sparked off by Shiv Sena Zilla Pramukh Dilip Thakur. Nanded is the hometown and erstwhile constituency of Maharashtra’s former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. It is a Congress bastion. Through RTI, he had exposed black-marketing of foodgrains under the Public Distribution System, and how the sand mafia contractors were paying their way into silencing officials as they freeloaded on sand which belonged to the state. Moreover, they were flouting contract norms by using machines when they had a deal with the state to provide employment to the poor. Ghadegaonkar’s RTI put a stop to this and caused Rs 15 lakh worth of penalty to some contractors.

5)   9 Aug ’10, ASSAULT ON BUDHAI KUMAR, Sitapur Dist, UP: Around 4pm when Kumar was away from his home, 8-10 men carrying sticks and sickles entered his house and beat his wife Shanti. When Kumar rushed to the house, he too was beaten. Both sustained head injuries Kumar, 50, had filed an RTI application to seek information on the construction material used in the shops which were constructed by the Sidhauli Nagar Panchayat. The public information officer of the office of the District Magistrate asked Kumar to collect the information from the Panchayat office. But the information was not given. “When I went to collect the documents, they said that lot of people come asking for such information. I should stay out of this,” said Kumar. Kumar then approached the state information commission which was also unable to provide the information. He also lodged a complaint with the state Lokayukta (ombudsmen). “The attackers included the brother and brother-in- law of Uma Shankar Mishra, chairman of the Nagar Panchayat,” said Kumar. “Before this attack, they had verbally threatened me many times,” he added. After the attack, Kumar went to the nearest police station, but the police refused to lodge a first information report. Kumar says that he also called the Superintendent of Police Jyoti Narayan who assured help, but later, denied knowledge of this case. 

6)   27 July ’10, MURDER OF HOME GUARD BABBU SINGH, Bahraich Dist, UP:  A UP police home guard was done to death allegedly for daring to seek information under the RTI Act about government funds and work done by his village pradhan in Bahraich. The accused pradhan's husband and four others were arrested in this connection. The police say the murder is fallout of a 40-year-old dispute between the two sides over a piece of land. According to reports, ex-pradhan of Katghar Mohan Singh, his son Vijay Pratap (32) alias Babbu Singh, who is a home guard and had come home on a holiday, and brother Satyadeo Singh was supervising some construction work on a piece of land in the village when one Indrajeet Singh and his cohorts reached the site. Indrajeet is husband of the sitting village pradhan.  “As soon as they came, they started abusing and eventually a free for all ensued. Since we were not expecting a showdown and they had come prepared with sticks and rods in hand, we could not do much and they beat us severely,” Satyadeo said.

7)   20 July ’10, MURDER OF AMIT JETHWA, Ahmedabad, Gujarat: Right to Information (RTI) activist Amit Jethwa was killed in the evening near the Gujarat High Court by unidentified men on a motorcycle, who fired at him. He was reportedly coming out of a building after meeting his lawyer and about to enter his vehicle when he was fired at. Even though he was hit in the abdomen by the bullets, he tried to grapple with his assailants, who fled, leaving behind their motorcycle. Jethwa died on the spot.  He had filed several petitions in the Gujarat High Court against the forest department and also a public interest litigation (PIL) on the illegal limestone mining in the Gir forests of Junagadh district, considered the last abode of Asiatic lions in the world. Jethwa was the president of Gir Nature Youth Club. His family blames BJP MP Dinubhai Solanki for the murder. Over the last two years, Jethwa filed six RTI applications seeking to reveal Solanki's possible involvement in illegal mining. Amit had campaigned against actor Aamir Khan for killing a chinkara during the shooting of Lagaan. He was instrumental in sounding the alarm about poaching of Asiatic lions in Gir in 2007 following which a gang of poachers from Madhya Pradesh was caught and prosecuted.

8)   14 July ’10, ASSAULT ON ASHOK KUMAR SHINDE, Mumbai:  Ashok Kumar Shinde was beaten up by some unknown people for his RTI followed by a PIL against Public Works Department officials making money on the pretext of repairs in Bombay High Court premises. Shinde was attacked right outside the PWD building in Mumbai. Shinde had earlier taken on the PWD with a string of RTIs and a PIL and alleged that PWD officials had illegally made around Rs 24 crore, in the name of repairs at the Bombay High Court premises.  Mumbai Police registered an FIR.

9)   23 June ’10, FALSE FIR AND ARREST OF RAMESH AGRAWAL, Raigarh Dist, Chattisgarh: Ramesh Agrawal belongs to Jan Chetna – a group of activists who keep in touch with each other so they are not alone in their fight against the powerful. Agrawal, 55, earns his living from a computer hardware shop he runs with his two sons, but has been involved in activism and social work. In 2006, he took on corporate giant Jindal Steel & Power Ltd because it had procured agricultural land for a factory near Raipur without the consent of the villagers in the area – which they were required to take by law. In 2009, he filed an RTI enquiring about a 2400 MW Jindal Thermal Power Plant 50 km away from Raigarh. The private project had been set up on Chattisgarh Municipal Development Corporation land – with neither lease nor a transfer of ownership. On June 18, 2010, Ministry of Environment & Forests (MOEF)  withdrew 'terms of reference' to the project, in effect rejecting the proposal.  On June 23, 2010, Sanjeev Chauhan, Senior General Manager of JSPL, registered an FIR against Agrawal, accusing him of demanding five crore rupees from the company. The charges against him – which lack evidence – haven’t yet been dropped, and the case is ongoing.

10)                      31 May ’10, ASSAULT ON GHULAM NABI SHAH, Budgam Dist, J&K: After he sought information regarding Indira Awas Yojana and NREGA funds from Block Development Officer (BDO) of Khansahib, Ghulam Nabi Shah was beaten up by henchmen of the local MLA, as well as officials from the BDO’s office. Details: http://blog.jkrtimovement.org/?p=2352

11)                      22 May 2010, MURDER OF DATTATRAYA PATIL, Kolhapur Dist, Maharashtra: Datta Patil of Ichalkaranji was was stabbed to death with swords by an unidentified group of assailants. One of the main reasons for his murder is said to be a private complaint he filed in the special magistrate’s court alleging horse-trading of councillors, involving a sum of Rs 25 lakh, in the local municipal polls. Based on his complaint, a criminal case was registered Kolhapur Anti-Corruption Bureau against 56 corporators in July 2009. The ACB questioned all the corporators and scrutinised their bank accounts. Though Patil had lodged several complaints against irregularities in some co-operative spinning mills and demanded an inquiry into the assets of two former police inspectors, his brother Kshamananda Patil alleges Datta had been done to death by killers hired by corporators named in the horse-trading scam. Patil’s other brother Prabhakar says his brother had brought to light 36 cases of irregularities, including the diversion of funds from the local elected representatives’ fund for construction of a posh police station at Jaisingpur. “The police have seized all documents my brother had gathered in 35 cases of corruption,” Prabhakar claims.

12)                      3 May ’10, ASSAULT ON DEBI GOENKA AND STALIN D, MUMBAI: Six activists of the Bombay Environment Action Group, including Debi Goenka, were manhandled when they went to inspect encroachments on mangrove land at Dahisar. Three days have gone by, but the police are yet to register an FIR despite repeated representations. Not many in Dahisar are surprised though. After all, it’s a question of 430 acres of land, and builders have been eyeing it for long. Then, on Tuesday around 5 pm, local residents saw smoke rising from the mangroves. They alerted the police and called the Fire Brigade. An enterprising youth even made a video recording of the fire, a copy of which is with Mumbai Mirror. Footage shows a fire engine winding its way to Prithvi Palace building, from where it is easiest to access the mangroves. But environmental activist Stalin Dayanand, who was capturing the fire engine with his camera from his nearby terrace, said he was surprised to see it turn back.

13)                      21 Apr ’10, MURDER OF VITTHAL GITE, Beed Dist., Maharashtra: Gite as seriously injured when a group led by the son of the educational society that runs Sainath Vidyalaya at Waghbet villager in Beed, attacked him. RTI activist Vitthal Gite (39) was a farmer and a flour-mill owner in a village near Parli-Vaijnath. Gite, along with another activist, Brijmohan Mishra, had sought information under RTI Act and exposed irregularities in the functioning of several schools in the village. The alleged irregularities in Sainath Vidyalaya were published in a local newspaper, which led to the clash between two groups in which Gite was killed. The police, however, said ‘‘old enmity’’ between the two groups had triggered the clash. Initially, inspector Vidyanand Kale of Parli-Vaijnath police station had said: “Information (relating to the school) sought by Gite under the RTI Act was one of the reasons behind the group clash”. However, Kale changed his stand later, saying, “Gite had not made any RTI application seeking information about the school. The complainant Arun Gite, who was in the past a teacher in that school, had grievances against the management, and he is projecting the deceased as an RTI activist.” He said, Vitthal Gite, a relative of both the complainant and the accused, tried to intervene in the clash and was killed. “We have arrested 13 persons in connection with incident,” Kale added.

14)                      17 Apr ’10, HARASSMENT OF MULKH RAJ, Udhampur Dist, J&K: Mulkh Raj was gheraoed, received death threats by phone, and was driven from his village home after he filed an RTI application seeking some expenditure details at the Ramnagar Higher Secondary School. Read more: http://blog.jkrtimovement.org/?p=2343

15)                      12 Apr ’10, ASSAULT AND FALSE FIR ON DAVINDER KHURANA, Patiala, Punjab: Davinder Khurana, a 60 year old cancer patient, resides at Sarabha Nagar at Ludhiana. He lives with his wife and two daughters. Khurana had a glass scrap business which would pay him Rs 15-20,000 a month. But that was when he didn’t have cancer. His cancer treatment at Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Centre took away muscle from his left jaw and chest – and severely impaired the functioning of his left hand. It also took away his earning. Sarabha Nagar is a posh colony where few, if any use ration cards. But Khurana, due to his compromised circumstances had to do so. Yet, when he went to the ration depot in his locality and applied for one, it was denied to him. So he filed an RTI application. This led to the discovery that government rations in posh Sarabhanagar were being shown as taken – and then siphoned off to be sold in the black market. District Food and Civil Supplies Controller (west) Rakesh Bahskar said he could not entertain Davinder Kumar Khurana’s complaint during November and December 2009 due to his tight schedule owing to procurement. Interestingly, there is no procurement during these months. Khurana was manhandled by the steno of the inquiry officer at the DFSC office on 12 April. He filed a complaint with the Sarabha Nagar police station. However, the DFSC office staff lodged a counter-compliant against Khurana for having attacked the official concerned. On August 6,  Information Commissioner PK Verma asked the DGP Punjab to institute an enquiry into Khurana’s allegations. On the very same day a criminal case was launched against Khurana and he was arrested. He was granted bail on the same day, but the allegations against him are strange. He is accused of beating up the same ration depot owner who refused him a ration card with a lathi. “This is impossible,” says Khurana. “Because my left hand doesn’t even function.”

16)                      4 Apr ’10, MURDER OF SOLA RANGA RAO, Krishna Dist, Andhra Pradesh: Till his death under mysterious circumstances in Sitaramapuram village in Krishna district, 30-year-old Sola Ranga Rao’s name was not known outside his village. On April 4 2010, Rao’s body was found in the roadside bushes. It was initially reported as an accident. But his father, Sola Venkateshwara Rao, lodged a complaint with the Agripally police station citing murder. He suspected the involvement of those unhappy with Rao’s attempts to expose misuse of funds sanctioned for laying a drainage system. Rao owned a small eatery in the village. He had filed an RTI query with the Mandal Parishad Development Office regarding the utilisation of funds. His family claims he was killed by the people involved in the siphoning off of that fund. The police, however, say that it was a case of accident. An eyewitness supposedly saw the accident in which Rao’s two-wheeler hit a buffalo, killing him. “The post-mortem examination report, and the nature of injuries and investigations make it clear that it was nothing, but an accident”, says P Hari Kumar, SP, Krishna district. According to Kumar, the village was notorious for rivalry between two groups. Rao belonged to a group which was at loggerheads with the one in power in Mandal Parishad. However, the Andhra Information Commission has asked for a thorough probe into Rao’s death after several RTI activists met in Hyderabad. Dileep Reddy, former journalist and member of the State Information Commission, said the DM and SP of Krishna district have been asked to submit separate reports. “We are suspecting involvement of the Public Information Officer of the Mandal Parishad Development office. He might have leaked the information about the RTI query filed by Ranga Rao to the people who could have murdered him,” Reddy said. Currently, the case remains unsolved.

17)                      1 Apr ’10, THREAT & MOB ATTACK ON ADVOCATE ABHAY PATIL, Jalgaon Dist, Maharashtra: Abhay patil from Pachora Taluka, Jalgaon district, Maharashtra is the former taluka president of youth congress and an activist. His wife Varsha is a woman police constable in Pachora.  At about 10.30 pm, a mob of 15-20 persons came their house and attacked their door, calling Abhay to come out. When Varsha phoned the police station, they asked her to come to police station and lodge a complaint. After half an hour, the mob went away, and then the police came, and the terrorized couple moved to a friend’s house for the night. The mob was demanding that Abhay should withdraw all complaints of corruption against Dilip Wagh, MLA (Rashtrawadi Party) about muncipal council and educational trust. Varsha alleges that although she complained the next day, home minister RR Patil used his powers to interfere in her complaint. Later on, a false complaint was lodged against her, and with the intervention of R R Patil, orders were given for her suspension. On a later date, Abhay’s father’s car was also attacked at midnight. Abhay Patil mobile no. 9423161993

18)                      16 Mar ’10, THREAT & MOB ATTACK, SUMAIRA ABDULALI & NASEER JALAL, Raigad Dist, Maharashtra: Sand-mining mafia involved in environmental destruction in Maharashtra’s Raigad district attacked environmental activists Sumaira Abdulali and Naseer Jalal, and a team of journalists from The Times of India, when they visited the creek to report on the rampant illegal activities. After a 10 km high-speed chase on a twisting ghat road, Sumaira’s vehicle was rammed by an LCV as it entered the highway, and immediately surrounded by three other vehicles. In the presence of a traffic cop, 15 to 20 people smashed the vehicle’s rear window, the side mirror and side window. They then tried to snatch the camera from the TOI photographer but failed. The mob threatened to kill local activist Jalal who was in the vehicle and asked Abdulali not to visit the area again… or else.  Mahad police station filed an FIR and booked the accused for attempt to murder, criminal intimidation and rioting. 

19)                      March ’10, FALSE FIRS & CONFISCATION OF PROPERTY OF GOVERDHAN SINGH, Bikaner Dist, Rajasthan: Goverdhan Singh, 30, has been on the run throughout most of 2010, thanks to false cases registered against him. In February 2010, he had filed a case against the SP and Additional SP of Bikaner district for forging the documents that an RTI application filed by him had asked for, concerning the properties and assets of police personnel. As soon as the High Court ruled against them, the force unleashed its vendetta filing nine criminal cases against Singh within a few days. Cases were also filed against his family, friends and lawyer. His house was sealed and the police confiscated all personal property. During the raid one of the officers told his aging mother that her son would be killed in a fake encounter if she didn’t urge him to withdraw his case. Immediately after, she suffered a brain hemorrhage that left her blind in one eye. Says Singh, “All I want is that an agency outside of Bikaner investigate this. Then I am sure all the cases against me will be proven to be false. How can the police that has manufactured them be expected to do justice with me?” Singh alleges that his wife was beaten up during the raid as well. Now the 25-year-old woman, a traditional Rajput woman in Purdah, has taken to fighting her husband’s case, representing him before authorities while he is in hiding.

20)                      26 Feb ’10, MURDEROUS ATTACK ON ARUN SAWANT, Badlapur, Maharashtra: Two men shot and critically injured RTI activist Arun Sawant at Badlapur, Thane, when he was coming out of the Badlapur Municipal Council at around 1.30 pm. Today, 58-year-old Arun Sawant is paralysed below the waist, and does not want to talk about his RTI activities. However, his is a rare medical success story as Dr Alok Sharma, head of Neurosurgery at Sion Hospital in Mumbai. His team not only removed the bullet embedded deep in the spine’s frontal curve, but also used stem cells to bring back his lower part to life. Sawant’s spine, held together by eight titanium screws and two rods, enabled him to overcome paralysis and recover some movement in his legs. Sawant had made about 300 RTI applications to the Municipal Council on civic issues and projects, and also seeking to dig out information about local politicians. He was an employee of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) till the late 90s, and currently was in the construction business. He was at loggerheads with many local politicians, including NCP MLA Kishan Kathore for years. Among other issues, Sawant had opposed Kathore’s election to the 2004 Assembly from Ambernath constituency on grounds that the latter had not disclosed the complete details of his properties in his nomination papers. Based on his petition, the Bombay High Court had, on August 16, 2007 set aside Kathore’s election. Subsequently, Supreme Court quashed the HC order. Kathore was re-elected to the Assembly from Murbad in the 2009 October poll. Though circumstances point the needle of suspicion at Kathore, cops have not made any headway in the probe into the attempt on Sawant’s life, owing to the “lack of co-operation” from the latter. “Sawant has not provided us any description of the persons who attacked him. Nor has he spoken about his suspicions about anyone’s involvement. With no co-operation from Sawant, we have not been able to do much,” says inspector Avinash P Mokashi.

21)                      26 Feb ’10, THREAT & HARASSMENT OF DR MUZAFFAR BHAT & seven others, Budgam Dist. J&K: Immediately after conducting an RTI awareness programme in Branwar (Budgam District, J&K), eight persons from the J&K RTI Movement led by Dr Muzaffar Bhat were threatened by a mob of 20 locals wielding bars and axes.  They were rescued by the timely intervention of a local CRPF unit. It was later learned that the mob had been organized by a ration shop owner in Branwar whose corrupt practices were being questioned by an RTI application filed with the Food & Supplies Department.  Later, these elements lodged a false FIR, claiming rioting and house trespass, assault and theft of gold ornaments.  Several activists were arrested on these preposterous charges and paraded through Budgam in handcuffs. Details: http://blog.jkrtimovement.org/?p=1732 Contact: Muzaffar Bhat  muzaffar@jkrtimovement.org, mobile no. 94195.62190

22)                      14 Feb ’10, MURDER OF SHASHIDHAR MISHRA, Begusarai-Barauni, Bihar: Three unidentified motor-cycle borne assailants shot Mishra while he was parking his bicycle at his home. The bullets pierced his head. Popularly known as “Khabari Lal”, Shashidhar Mishra was a graduate, more famous than any local leader in Bihar’s Barauni and Begusarai areas.  In his crusade against wrongdoers, the young social activist felt RTI was a potent weapon. He sought information from the Government and NGOs on welfare schemes. Ranjit Mishra, Roshan Mishra and Vivek Mishra, sons of Jaichand Mishra of Phulwaria village, were named in the FIR. While two of them are in jail, Vivek is still absconding. The cops also chargesheeted a fourth person who is still at large. This was not the first time that this fearless activist was attacked. Two years earlier, Mishra was beaten up brutally by unidentified persons who left him unconscious on the road. A case was lodged at Teghra police station against Dharamdeo Prasad Gupta and Ranjit Mishra. Mishra had come into the limelight when his RTI application exposed the nexus between railway police and criminals at the Barauni railway station. Mishra had filed an RTI application seeking information on a PCO at platform No 6-7, allegedly sanctioned in proxy of a local goon. After the expose, the Railways shut down the booth. Two days later, he was murdered.

23)                      11 Feb ’10, MURDER OF VISHRAM LAXMAN DODIYA, Surat, Gujarat: Three men with swords hacked Vishram Laxman Dodiya of Ahmedabad to death on a road near his home. Vishram Laxman Dodiya had filed an application under RTI to get details about the illegal electricity connection by Torrent Power. He could not get any information. On February 11, 2010 he was found murdered, shortly after meeting with the company officials. Three people were arrested in the case. His son is yet to receive the information under RTI. Vishram Laxman Dodiya, 55 years old, made a meager living selling water and books from the roadside in the city of Surat in the western state of Gujarat. From his stand, he wrote letters to government offices requesting information on everything from how many electricity lines an electric company was installing to what the government was doing to stop gambling in the area where he lived. Local police, who say he was killed for his activism, arrested three men and charged them with murder. The case is now in a court in Surat. Contact: Harinesh Pandya, Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP) magpgujarat@gmail.com  079-26821553/0719

24)                      13 Jan ’10, MURDER OF SATISH SHETTY, Pune, Maharashtra: 39-year-old RTI activist Satish Shetty from Talegaon Dabhade, a small township in Pune district, was attacked by three or four masked men with swords, when he was on a morning walk. He had blown the whistle on a series of land scams in and around Talegaon, Lonavala and Pimpri-Chinchwad. An anti-corruption crusader for the last 15 years, Shetty had used the RTI Act to expose many land scams in and around Talegaon, besides the setting up of restaurants and marriage halls in residential zones, selling in the black market of kerosene meant for distribution through ration shops, BOT projects and real estate dealings of  IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd, etc. Shetty’s murder is a major embarrassment for the police as he had demanded police protection after having received threats to his life. Shetty was the district convener of the Bhrashtachar Dakshata Samiti. Among the illegal activities he had exposed were: Unauthorised construction of a marriage hall on the Pune-Mumbai highway, a Rs-4,000 crore IRB land scam involving an influential ruling politician and some land registration department officials, a land scam involving an industrialist at Aadegaon in Maval taluka of Pune district, illegal construction of a hotel by a local councillor, encroachment of Railway land by a former president of Talegaon-Dabhade Municipal Council and a scam involving a shopkeeper in a fake ration card nexus. What eventually took his life was the IRB scam, in which a ruling coalition politician had allegedly grabbed 2,800 acres of land belonging to the State Government and local farmers. Based on the information he had obtained under the RTI Act in September 2009 about the illegal land dealings in Taje and Pimpoli villages in Maval taluka, Shetty first filed cases with the Lonavala Police Station against the Lonavala Sub-Registrar of Land Registration Ashwini Kshirsagar and others, accusing them of allegedly preparing fake documents while registering land transactions. This property worth Rs 4,000 crore had allegedly been grabbed by the IRB Infrastructure Developers Limited at Lonavala. Following his complaint, the Land Registration Department had initiated an inquiry against Ashwini and found she was responsible for the loss of stamp duty revenue to the Government in 911 transactions out of 3,000 land transactions carried out by her. She was suspended. In an affidavit filed in Bombay High Court, Satish’s younger brother Sandeep said that his brother had received life threats at the behest of Virendra Mhaiskar, CMD of IRB Infrastructure Developers Limited. Shetty had also rubbed industrialist Nitin Sable, Director, Sable-Waghire Company and member of the Pune Zilla Parishad, the wrong way by exposing the illegal manner in which the latter acquired 11 acres of land at Aadegaon in Maval taluka. Shetty revealed how the property had been sold to someone else 10 years ago. On his advice, the stakeholders in the land filed a case against Sable. The matter is in a sessions court. While the scam involving Vaishali marriage hall – constructed on two plots of encroached land at Talegaon Dabhade – that Shetty exposed involved the son of a member of local council Pilaji Sarode, another expose involved the illegal construction of a hotel on Talegaon-Chakan Road allegedly by local councillor Girish Kher. Apart from exposing the illegal construction of the hotel, he had also demanded the disqualification of Kher as a councillor just a week before his murder. Under pressure, the Congress-led DF Government on April 7 finally handed over the Shetty murder case to the CBI. “Since some big names are involved in the case, the police are not able to act. Even the Pune SP is helpless in the matter,” Sandeep’s lawyer Vijay Nahar told the High Court in his intervention application on March 3.  For details, contact: Sandeep Shetty 99603 86681 or Vijay Kumbhar 99232 99199

25)                      12 Jan ’10, ASSAULT & FAKE FIR ON AJAY KUMAR & colleagues, New Delhi: When Ajay Kumar asked New Delhi authorities later in 2009 why Municipal councillor Satbir Sharma had authorized the construction of private houses and shops on public land, he didn't imagine the question would land him in the hospital with a fractured nose. Mr Kumar was stonewalled by the public information officer at the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, so he appealed to the Central Information Commission, which directed the MCD together with the police to jointly inspect the property. However, only two persons were allowed to come and inspect. Accordingly, Mr Kumar, who is General Secretary of an NGO, Public Grievance and Welfare Society, Kishan Ganj, went with his colleague Manmohan Gupta on January 12, only to find themselves surrounded by a mob. "Neither the police nor the MCD officials helped us," says Mr Kumar, who was beaten in the head repeatedly by an iron rod, leaving him unconscious and bleeding profusely. Society president Surinder Puri said, “The police registered an FIR on January 18, after we took up the matter with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. But to our horror, we found that on January 12, they had filed a false FIR against us in connection with a weapon – a loaded katta (countrymade gun) supposedly found in our car.”

26)                      10 Jan 2010, MOB DEMOLITION OF CHAMBER OF ADVOCATE KIRAN PANDE, Ferozepur, UP: In January 2010, goons demolished Pande’s chamber in the District Court complex as well, affecting his source of income. Between August 2007 and January 2009, Pande filed 90 RTI applications to the Cantonment Board to seek clarifications on how funds had been utilized. The board replied to only 30 of them with obscure and insufficient information. Pande kept filing appeals to the Central Information Commission and waiting for them to come up for hearing for two years. Meanwhile, he received threats, allegedly from members of the board to stop his activism. He notified every institution he could think of – from the DIG and District Commissioner to the High Court and Sessions Court. Despite his pleas, on the 12th of July 2009, he was kidnapped from a temple on the outskirts of the town. For a week after that Pande was tortured brutally. He was attacked by knives everyday and starved of food and water. With 37 slashes on his body, the heat became all the more unbearable. Pande claims he had no hope of coming out alive at all. Meanwhile the Bar Council went on strike to protest one of their colleagues going missing. The local media picked up the news and with Legislative elections around the corner, pressure began to build up on the government. Finally, unconscious and severely injured, he was left on the road outside the police station. Despite pressure from civil society, all that the police did was register an FIR for kidnapping. His kidnappers are on the loose, the scars on his body have not healed and his back still hurts from the beatings he got.

27)                      8 January ’10: FIRING OUTSIDE NAYANA KATHPALIA’S HOUSE, Mumbai: Two assailants barged into the Swastik building opposite Oval Maidan in Churchgate at 6.45am and fired a round with a country-made revolver outside Nayana Kathpalia’s first-floor residence. The 65-year-old co-convenor of the NGO Citispace, who has been fighting for open spaces in the city, escaped unhurt. “The two men entered the building to kill Kathpalia. In the absence of a watchman, one stood near the gate while the other went to her house and opened fire after Kathpalia’s domestic help opened the grilled security door. The panicked assailant fled immediately,” said an officer from the Marine Drive police station. “While an additional bullet was found outside the house, the gun lay abandoned under a tree outside the building. The police registered a case under section 307 of the IPC and various sections of the Indian Arms Act. The officer said that the dog squad, deployed after the incident, led the police to a restaurant next to the sessions court opposite the Maidan. The NGO has been targeted for its relentless protests against Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scheme being implemented on open spaces and their opposition to hawkers.

28)                      6 Jan ’10, ASSAULT & FALSE FIR ON PRIYANKA BORPUJARI & other Mumbai journalists, Dantewada, Chhatisgarh: Priyanka Borpujari, a journalist from Mumbai, and her colleagues, were physically assaulted by locals and by police in Dantewada, Chattisgarh. Her camera was forcibly snatched away, they were detained overnight and a motivated FIR was lodged against them with charges of dacoity etc. Details http://priyanka-borpujari.blogspot.com/2010/01/from-detention-drama-to-dacoit.html   aa.priyanka@gmail.com   Priyanka Borpujari 9820741992

SUMMARY: 28 attacks (10 murders) of activists & whistle-blowers in 2010, 5 attacks (0 murders) in Jan 2011

Narendra Modi’s Gujarat is not developing, Maulana Vastanwi

By Soroor Ahmed, TwoCircles.net,

With due acknowledgment of Ghulam Mohammad Vastanwi’s contribution in the field of education in Gujarat and Maharashtra, one needs to remind him, that no country in the 20th century developed as fast in the six years period, between 1933 and 1939, as Adolf Hitler’s Germany. And in the next six years––between 1939 and 1945––all what he did was destroyed because of the senseless war in the world, for which he too was largely responsible. About five crore people perished and his country, and many others, were thrown back to the Stone Age.

So, before opening one’s mouth on development, one needs to understand, what development actually means––who are the beneficiaries and who the victims. One should also be cautious of the pitfalls of development and be aware of the policies which may, in the long-run prove counter-productive.

Maulana Ghulam Mohammad Vastanwi at a Madarsa in Bihar last year [Photo by Jamiatulqasim.com]
Not only that: in the 21st century world, one just does not need to understand the definition of development from an MBA––Vastanwi has that degree––when renowned scholars and Nobel Prize winners are coming out with entirely different meaning of the term. By their yardstick, Wastanvi’s Gujarat may be ranked among the least developed states. Why go so far. According to India State Hunger Index 2008, Gujarat is shockingly ranked worse than Orissa. Gujarat is ranked 13th in the 17 big states which were calculated. Vastanwi’s Gujarat, is only above Jharkhand, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, which are globally equal to the hunger situation in Ethiopia.

Hold your breath and listen: in this post-industrialized, computerized and mechanized world, a region, state or a country with less number of industries is categorized as developed. The service sector expands very fast there; the people rely on organic farming and want to live in pollution free environment in the rural suburb. Instead they are trying to shift all the iron ore, aluminum, asbestos, chemical, ship-breaking plants etc as well as other poison emitting factories to elsewhere in the world, especially in Asia and Africa, where labor is cheap and rulers have no regard for environment. Our leaders grab such industries with both hands to boast before the people that look we have brought so much Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).

Vastanwi’s Gujarat and Maharashtra are among the few states which are the ‘beneficiaries’ of these so-called investments. When new concept about development is coming up, we are still categorizing those states as developed ones, which have maximum number of poison-gushing chimneys. We are not at all ashamed to say that almost all of those 16,000-odd farmers, who are officially committing suicide in our country every year (since 1997 when the compilation of data started), come from these very industrialized states––Maharashtra topping the list. In contrast Jammu and Kashmir has almost negligible farmers’ suicide rate.

These states have industries because here semi-arid land is available and can be easily acquired from the farmers. In contrast farmers of West Bengal, Bihar and east Uttar Pradesh, where the land is extremely fertile would lay down their lives for every inch, whatever be the compensation. Because of this reason and not because of Narendra Modi, Nano got land easily in Gujarat while West Bengal failed in spite of so much bloodshed. 

In contrast, the governments of these industrialized states have done little for the survival of their agriculture sector; therefore, the farmers are either committing suicide or famishing.

To know, how the concept of per capita income, growth rate etc are becoming less relevant in measuring the overall development of any place, one does not need to read big philosophical books of great scholars written on development. Just go through the CBSE Class-X book of Economics. Why Kerala is rated high on developmental index than Punjab, though the latter is agriculturally, even industrially and per capita income wise, ahead of former? This is simply because the definition of development by the United Nations Development Programme is more acceptable now than the old one of the World Bank.

Vastanwi must understand that his talent lies in running institutions and for this very purpose he was appointed as the Rector of Darul Uloom, Deoband.

But being a public figure he will have to understand that politics is a different ball game, for which he, and honestly speaking, many of our Muslim clerics are perhaps not suited. He must understand some basic facts about his own state and should not go about equating it with others abruptly. Being a state with largest coast, Gujarat as well as Maharashtra attracted largest number of big European companies in late 19th and early 20th centuries. Larsen and Toubro, Unilever, WIMCO, Britannia, Siemens and many others landed up on their ports and so was the first railway line, laid between Thane and Bombay.

The entrepreneur culture in Gujarat developed in 19th century itself and man like Abdullah took Gandhiji to South Africa. So far entrepreneur culture is concerned; Gujarat can never be compared with other hinterland states of India.

So, even according to his own definition, whatever development had taken place in Gujarat, is not any thing new. In fact, under Narendra Modi the growth rate––if this is again used as the lone yardstick of development––is less than in early 1990s, when there was no Modi around.

Two decades back, the growth rate of Gujarat was something between 12 and 13 per cent. The national average was six to seven per cent then. Today, Gujarat has the growth rate of 11 per cent when India’s rate of growth is 10 per cent. This is not the figment of anyone’s imagination but the official fact.

Vastanwi will have to understand that the saffron brigade is master in changing goal-post. Since Modi is responsible for what has happened in Gujarat in 2002, he is now being painted as the man of development. The media machinery of the BJP works overtime to project their chief ministers as the developmental-minded ones, even if men like B S yeddyurappa is out to ruin Karnataka, which owes its development to the non-BJP rulers.

Instead of falling into the trap of the corporate media and the Hindutva brigade, who are now projecting him as a hero and an open-minded Maulana, Vastanwi must concentrate in the field he has been involved.

Lastly, he must understand that many criminals-turn-MPs (or MLAs) are ‘much better’ people’s representatives than honest and upright ones. They carry out more development works in their constituencies and are more responsive to the voters’ problems. Then by that logic, their achievements should be highlighted and they should be exonerated of all the crimes and dubbed as development-minded politicians.

Link:- http://twocircles.net/node/237126  

Mahesh Langa, Hindustan Times
Ahmedabad, January 12, 2011
Hardly 25% of the deals signed during the Gujarat investors' summits since 2003 have been successful. The rest have remained on paper. 

This has been the finding of an audit done by former chief minister and BJP leader Suresh Mehta. 

"Of the 9,326 MoUs inked in the last four summits, only 844 translated into projects commissioned so far while 1,432 projects are under various stages of implementation," Mehta told HT. "This means only 25% of the MoUs have materialised."

During the summit in 2009, 8,660 MoUs were signed but only about 543 projects materialised while 1,238 are under implementation, the audit says. 

One big project (Rs1.8 lakh crore) that did not materialise was supposed to be of a consortium of Hindustan Construction Company and Universal Success Enterprises, led by NRI Prasoon Mukherjee and the Shabir Bhatia group. They were to develop a township, power plant and port near Ahmedabad. 

However, Mehta said Gujarat had traditionally been at the forefront in attracting moneybags, getting more than 20% of the investment in the country at any point of time, and that continued irrespective of whether such summits were held.

"In the early 1990s, Gujarat had become a front-ranking state, replacing Maharashtra in getting investments in industry. During that period, work started on the Reliance Industries refinery in Jamnagar, Essar's refinery, the expansion of the Hazira industrial area in south Gujarat near Surat and the General Motors manufacturing facility at Halol near Vadodara."

"Very good rainfall in the last seven years and the robust economy in the country have resulted in industrialised states like Gujarat achieving higher growth rates than the national average," he said.

An IIM-Ahmedabad professor, who did not want to be named, said, "The Vibrant Gujarat platform is meant for marketing the government's achievements by inflating figures of investment," he said.