RTI activist murdered in Shravasti district of Uttar Pradesh4 Mar, 2014
An RTI activist, Zakir Siddique, was shot dead in Uttar Pradesh’s Shravasti district. The victim’s wife Kamanrunnisha has lodged an FIR alleging that the husband and supporters of panchyat chief of Lalbojhi village were behind the murder. It has been claimed that the panchayat chief’s husband Jagdev Verma and his supporters intercepted Zakir near his home and fired him after an argument. He was rushed to the nearby community health centre at Ikauna where the doctors declared him brought dead. The police have taken four people into custody in connection with the murder while the prime accused was absconding.
It was informed by the wife of the deceased that he sought details of development works being undertaken in the village by the panchayat using the power bestowed under the RTI Act. Zakir would visit the district development officer and other officials and complain about the lack of development works or misappropriation of funds by the panchayat office bearers and demand action against them. He also threatened to approach the state information commission when the district officials displayed reluctance to provide the information. Jagdev Verma and his supporters had allegedly threatened Zakir of serious consequences and were pressurising him to withdraw his RTI application.
Many RTI activists have been killed in the past for filing an application under the RTI Act which would reveal the misdeeds of those in power.