‘Gujarat third in custodial deaths and top in RTI activists’ murders’


Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have warned Biharis for not voting Nitish Kumar back to power fearing the return of jungle raj (anarchy) in the state, but the members of civil liberties group in Ahmedabad on Wednesday complained of complete lawlessness in his home state, Gujarat.

People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP) told reporters that  between 2005 and 2012, as many as 91 persons had died in police custody. The state was third in the list of custodial killings after Maharashtra with 159 custodial deaths and UP 122.

This was the period when Modi ruled the state as chief minister.

Quoting National Crime Records Bureau, they alleged that Gujarat was also on top of the list of murders of RTI activists and whistle blowers.

The latest victim of custodial killing, according to the PUCL’s state secretary Gautam Thakar, was Shwetang Patel of Ahmedabad, who was picked up by the police during the recent Patidar agitation.

MAGP representative Pankti Jog said that a total of 12 RTI activists had been murdered in the state since the implementation of RTI provisions in the state in 2005.

55-year-old Ratansinh Chaudhary of Garanbadi village in Suigam taluka in Banaskantha district was the latest RTI activist to be murdered.

According to reports, Chaudhary was killed by four persons of his village on 17 October this year for demanding transparency in distribution of relief and compensation to the flood victims through the gram panchayat of his village.

“We had never imagined that such a thing will happen in Gujarat. This has shocked the RTI activists in the state,” Jog said.

Other RTI activists killed in the state are Amit Jethwa, Nadeem Saiyed, Vishram Dodiya, Jabardan Gadhvi, Amit Kapasia, Shailesh Patel, Rayabhai Gohil, Ketan Solanki, Purushottam Chauhan, Jayesh Barot and Yogesh Shekhar.

RTI activists frequently contributing to jantakareporter.com have always requested for anonymity fearing serious reprisals. One activist, who filed RTI request for the PM’s educational qualification, often avoids speaking on the phone in the fear that his whereabouts may be traced by the people wanting to ‘eliminate’ him.