RTI activist shot dead in East Champaran district of Bihar

Activists receive media attention only when killed or seriously injured. Many threats and attacks (including murder) on RTI activsits go unreported. 

RTI

Bipin Agrawal, a 46-year-old RTI activist, was shot dead by a gang of criminals on Friday at the gate of block office of Harsiddhi in Bihar’s East Champaran district on Friday afternoon.
Police sources claimed that the incident happened when Bipin was going to a block office on foot according to a report by Times of India.

While he was entering in the block premises, two criminals opened fire on him.
He was taken to a private nursing home at Motihari, where the doctors declared him brought dead.

East Champaran SP Navin Chandra Jha said a special investigation team (SIT) has been formed to probe the case.

He added that the family members of the deceased have not filed any case in this connection so far.

The police are investigating the case from all angles as the activist had enmity with several people in the Harsidhi market. Raids are being conducted to nab the criminals.

Sources said Bipin had earlier revealed through RTI that 99 persons had encroached the government land in Harsidhi market last year and the administration was initiating action against the encroachers now.

Attack on RTI activists Becoming a Norm

Right to Information Act (RTI) activists seek information to “promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority” in India. Many are regularly harassed, threatened and face assaults on a regular basis. People seeking information from their gram panchayat and the local administration also face social ostracism.

Majority of the RTI activists are not part of an organisation; they often act alone, moved by the illegal activities in society. RTI activists are vulnerable because they live in the same areas as public authorities and political leaders who do not want information about their activities to be disclosed.

Many threats and attacks (including murder) go unreported by the media. For the most part, human rights defenders receive media attention only when killed or seriously injured. A few activists who sought information under RTI related to MNREGA scams, were killed.

The Right to Information Act, 2005 provides inadequate protection to whistleblowers. Attacks on RTI users have not ceased despite directions from several information commissions and state governments to protect them from harm.

Media reports of more than 300 instances of attacks on or harassment of citizens and at least 51 murders and 5 suicides can be linked to information sought under The Right to Information Act. Maharashtra followed by Gujarat tops the list for states with the most attacks on RTI users.

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