death of an activist

MUMBAI: Three days after Premkant Jha, a Right to Information (RTI) activist working to reveal land scams was shot dead in broad daylight in Virar, police is clueless on attackers or the motive.

The 42 year old, who was shot dead on Friday, was initially suspected to be a causality of road accident and Police had registered a case of accidental death. But Jha’s family members suspected foul play as an injury mark seemed like a bullet hole. A post-mortem investigation at J J Hospital confirmed that he had died of bullet injury; police later filed an FIR against unknown assassins.

Premkant Jha, was the national public relations officer of the Bhrashtachar Atyachar Virodhi Samiti and had been using RTI to collect information on land grab and illegal construction in the area of Vasai, Nayasopara and Virar. “He had unearthed many scams and this made him an obstacle for the land mafia. Police was given a suspect list of six people but none of them have been questioned, rather the people he (Jha) knew are being asked about their role,” Sanjay Pathak, from India against Corruption said. Jha’s family has left for Gaya to perform his last rites.

“The investigations are on and we are speaking to people he was last seen with and the suspects, however no arrests have been made so far,” Y S Bagwan, Inspector of Virar Police stations said. He added that the police as aware of the family’s allegation that land mafia might have killed him however it was too soon to confirm or reject their belief. “There was no lack of corporation from either police or hospital staff, it looked like a case of hit and run and the bullet was lodged right under his skull and could not be seen from naked eye. Also he was bleeding profusely so the local hospital referred him to a hospital that had all the facilities,” he said.

Sanjay Pathak, an India Against Corruption (IAC) activist working in the Vasai-Virar belt, said: “Had it not been for our insistence on the autopsy report, the police would have dismissed it as a case of accident. The manner in which an activist can be shot in broad day light speaks of the confidence that mafia has and the inability of Police, why else would so many activists in the state have also be killed, attacked and threatened?” Mr Pathak said.

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