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A coincidental day after my item about the persecution of so-called "Maoist sympathizers" my pal Dan Pepper has a nice article in the Christian Science Monitor about another way that Indian authorities are trying to quash dissent: By beating and even murdering activists who use the four-year-old Right to Information Act to expose corruption.
Turns out, last fall Ajay Kumar ran afoul of unidentified thugs when he dared to question why a local politician had authorized a builder to construct private houses on public land. He ended up in the hospital, beaten by iron rods. But he's still fighting.
As Pepper points out, though, Kumar's far from alone. And the further you get from Delhi, the harder it is to use RTI without paying the piper.
At a meeting in the capital of the poverty-stricken northern Indian state of Bihar last November, 49 activists spoke about fighting trumped-up arrest warrants and other attempts to silence their efforts. None of the warrants have stood up under scrutiny, they claim. On Feb. 14 in Bihar, well-known RTI activist Shashidhar Mishra was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on motorcycles at the entrance of his home. He had been working to expose local welfare schemes.
A month before, in the tech hub of Pune, a couple hours outside Mumbai, another activist, Satish Shetty, was killed while on his morning walk. Mr. Shetty had a record of exposing land scams in his area. Shetty had received threats on his life and requested police protection, though none was provided. The High Court in Bombay asked the state government to investigate the killing.
So, this is India. Progressive laws, right-thinking people, and others who murder to them to stop things from changing.