Skip to main content

Cost of filing RTI with police in Gujarat: Activist-journalist Shailesh Patel "murdered" by bootleggers

Shailesh Patel
By Pankti Jog*
In Mahatma Gandhi’s dry state, even asking for information about illegal liquor trading has proved to be life snatching. Shailesh Kantilal Patel of Surendranagar district of Gujarat filed a right to information (RTI) application on June 15, 2015 at 12 noon at the district superintendent of police’s (DSP’s) office of Surendrangar district. He was murdered on the same day late night.
Shailesh Patel’s RTI application, typed on Rs 20 stamp paper, had only one query – details of cases registered since 2011 against one Rafik Yunus alias Haji who is allegedly into liquor trading, and also about what action police have taken regarding the same.
Contends his sister Praveena Patel, who is police constable and works with Mahila Police Station in Surendrangar town, police informed about the RTI application to local crime branch (LCB), whose cops approached Shailesh Patel to make a settlement. But when Shailesh Patel refused, “he was murdered”.
The in-charge public information officer (PIO) in the DSP office, on being approached, said, he accepted the RTI request and “immediately transferred to the city police station, to which the matter belongs”. On contacting police inspector (PI) of the city police station, who is also the PIO, he said he received Shailesh Patel’s RTI application only on June 18, thee days after the murder.
According to the police, Shailesh Patel had had lent Rs 50,000 to the accused, and this triggered the murder. However, his 80-year-old mother denies this. “My son asked for information, and that is why the bootleggers murdered him”, she said. Shailesh Patel worked as reporter with the local “Tankar” weekly. 
Shailesh Patel's press i-card
Illegal liquor distilleries and trading is a nuisance in Surendrangar, local people complained. “Several complaints have been filed so far, and even women took out rallies against bootlegging. But when police has strong nexus with bootleggers, how can they take action against them? We feel here LCB and police both are in partnership with illegal liquor distilleries owners”, said a shop keeper.
Coincidently, around 80 women reached Gandhinagar to meet chief minister Anandiben Patel to submit a memorandum on June 16, in which one of the major issues highlighted was illegal liquor trade in Surendrangar. The memorandum said, illegal liquor has led to sharp rise in violence against women. But the chief minister refused to meet them, and they were sent to the secretary, food and civil supplies department.
What next?
“We do not hope that police will do proper investigation. We will represent to higher authorities regarding police role in Shailesh Patel’s murder”, his family members said. His brother also plans to file a complaint under section 18 of RTI Act, demanding for proper inquiry, and information to be given.
The Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP), Gujarat’s apex body of RTI activists, has decided to submit a report to the State information Commission, requesting it to order for the disclosure of the information on the website, as this information has proved to be too sensitive. MAGP will also be appealing to the RTI community across the state and the nation to file RTI and seek information which Shailesh Patel had wanted from the police.
Till date six persons seeking information through RTI have lost their lives in Gujarat. The first one to die was Amit Jethva, who sought information regarding action taken against illegal mining around the Gir forest, the only abode of Asiatic lion. In none of the cases accused has been punished. Then, there been around 40 incidents of severe attacks on RTI activists, as per the information received by MAGP on its helpline, 9924085000.
The Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, which was passed one-and-a-half-years ago, has still not implemented by the Government of India. The Gujarat government has not framed any mechanism for protecting the whistleblower, either.
---
*Senior activist, MAGP. This report was prepared following the visit of MAGP team to Surendrangar and meeting with victims’ family members, and visit to the DSP office and the city police station on June 19, 2015

Comments

Paresh Vaidya said…
Government wakes up when TV channels pester them. Those who know the contacts should send this news to Times Now or Aaj Tak channels.

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.