BHOPAL: RTI activist Shehla Masood who was shot dead outside her house, had campaigned tirelessly against corruption for many years.
She turned her attention to mining conglomerate Rio Tinto’s plans to extract 37 million tonnes of diamond-bearing ore from land in one of the teak forests in the country.
The 38 year old shot dead by an unidentified assailant outside her house in Bhopal on August 16, was possibly silenced because it has emerged, “she had information that would shake the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh to its core.”
Environmentalists feared that the mine project in Chhatarpur district threatened the watershed of Panna Tiger Reserve and the Shyamri River.
In a letter to India’s home minister in July, Masood wrote, “The Rio Tinto Company began exploring in this eco-sensitive zone before being granted government permission. The officials who objected have been transferred from their positions.”
Shehla planned to launch her own legal challenge and started to file right-to-information applications to gather evidence.
Shehla’s younger sister, Ayesha, who has returned from the US, is now ploughing through evidences, looking for a clue and trying to make sense of what actually happened.
According to Ayesha, Shehla told a friend who met her five days before her death that “she had information that would shake the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh to its core,” the Guardian reports.
Ayesha feared the killing is linked to those who stood to gain from the deal with Rio Tinto, the paper said.
Vinita Deshmukh, a journalist and activist who has followed the case closely, said that ‘it was more convenient and more economical perhaps to snuff out the life of Shehla.’
After the careless behavior of police the disappointed sister Ayesha said, “If highly influential people are involved, India is very good at sacrificing its own citizens.”