Rights activists allege whistleblower taken casually in Gujarat

Ahmedabad, Nov 23 (IANS) The state unit of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) on Monday alleged that the Gujarat government had failed to protect an RTI activist and whistleblower Ratansinh Chaudhary for exposing a case of misappropriation of money for flood relief, but in fact “created circumstances” that led to his murder.

A PUCL investigation team, which visited Chaudhary’s village in Banaskantha district, said with the murder, the total number of whistleblowers murdered in the state ever since the RTI law came into force touched 11.

The team identified others as Amit Jethva, Nadeem Saiyad, Vishram Dodiya, Jabar Dan Gadhvi, Amit Kapasiya, Shailesh Patel, Rayabhai Gohil, Ketan Solanki, Jayesh Barot and Yogesh Shekhar.

A fact-finding team of the PUCL said Chaudhary had first sent his complaint to the chief minister on October 7 through fax and later by post alleging misappropriation of flood relief funds.

The complaint was routinely transferred to the lower level on October 12.

On the same day, an RTI application was filed by Chaudhary.

Instead of taking any action, the administration leaked the information to vested interests in the village. “The accused attacked and murdered Chaudhury, saying he was lodging complaints against them,” PUCL said.

In his complaint, Chaudhary had claimed that the relief from the government had not reached the people affected by floods and that influential people had “grabbed cheques of big amounts, and that, too, in different names of the same family”.

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