Tag Archives: death

A vulnerable vocation

“We always knew that his activism was an eye sore to a lot of people who had access to criminals and money, but we underestimated their audacity,” said Sandeep Shetty as he spoke of his brother Satish’s death.

Satish Shetty was a Right to Information (RTI) activist who exposed many land scams in Maharastra. He was killed by unidentified men while on a morning walk near his house. On January 14, the Bombay High Court, issued suo moto orders to the Maharashtra Government and the State police to probe Satish Shetty’s killing.

“The government announced that it would launch an offensive against land sharks and the land mafia, promises were made but nothing happened. The man who blew the whistle in over 10,000 bogus cases, exposed several land scams was killed in day light — that’s all,” Sandeep added.

Shetty’s case is one of many cases in which RTI activists exposing scams have been attacked or killed in Maharastra. “Premkant Jha, Satish Shetty, Arun Sawant, Vithal Gite, Dattatreya Patil, Irfan Yusuf Kazi and many more….the list is endless!” says Ms. Abdulali, convenor of Movement against Intimidation, Threats and Revenge against Activists (MITRA).

MITRA has sent letters to Home Minister R.R. Patil, listing the attacks suffered by activists in the past few years. “RTI activist are easy to identify, they do not have any security and they usually expose matters that stir the corrupt practices of people with money and power. But the manner in which they are being killed speaks of how confident the criminals are of not being caught,” she adds

“We have seen in many cases that the attacked activist had revealed information that exposes politicians or business men or mafia who are directly or indirectly in a position to ensure that no steps are taken to provide safety,” RTI activist James John said. Mr John was attacked on five different occasions, he laughingly recollects, “In 2008 I was video graphing a staged riot, the goons beat me so bad that I had three fractured ribs, was in ICU was few days and in bed for few months…but I survived.”

“I won’t be surprised if I am killed because of the work that I do. Many people will make a lot of money if people like me do not raise questions about their activities,” 78-year-old HC De’lima said. Mr De’lima, who has been working to root out land mafia’s presence in Andheri, was attacked by sickles near his house in 2005.

Rajesh Darakh, secretary of Whistleblowers India, an action group for whistleblowers in India, used RTI to find out the status of investigations in Mr De’lima’s case. “Even to get a FIR registered you need to know some senior police officer, not that the entire force is corrupt but inaction and lack of conviction seems to encourage such attacks.” He added that criminals take advantage of the slow and faulty justice system.

RTI activist are under attack in large parts of the country for using the act to bring transparency in government functioning but the nexus between mafias, politicians and sections of the bureaucracy makes it difficult for the daily life heroes to stay alive.

“An activist’s job is a thankless one, hundreds of people can identify the culprits of land mafia, land mining mafia but when activists becomes the whistle blowers and when they are attacked there is no support from anyone. Also police protection for activists can only be for a limited period of time and the attention it brings will invite more trouble. We want is a safer environment to work,” Ms Abdulali said.Imageactism


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Memorial service held for ‘evergreen hero’

The memorial service for legendary actor-director Dev Anand saw fans and the Bollywood fraternity honour the life of their beloved ‘evergreen hero.’ The actor passed away in London on December 3; he was cremated there last Saturday and his ashes were dispersed over the waters of the Godavari near Pune.

Many producers, directors and stars of the Mumbai film industry were in attendance at the service, held at the city’s Mehboob Studios where many of his memorable films like Guide, Hum Dono and Johny Mera Naam were shot. His personal make-up room there is kept intact in his memory.

Dev Anand’s co-actors Waheeda Rehman, Asha Parekh, Hema Malini, Shabana Azmi, Zeenat Aman and Bindu were present at the condolence meeting. Other popular faces like Abhishek Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Tabu, Tina Ambani, Vinod Khanna, Kabir Bedi, Shekar Kapur, Raza Murad, Fardeen Khan, Akbar Khan, Madhur Bhandarakar, Bharat Shah and Yash Chopra were also present.

The service was open to the public and many fans came to pay tribute to his memory. Dressed in a typical Dev Anand get-up with scarf, red jacket, wavy hair and the signature head nod, Chandrashekhar Mahamuni had come from Pune. “I loved him as a hero and as a person. I used to call him regularly and talk to him about my life and he would listen and advice me. He was so easily approachable, just a phone call away,” he said.

Dev Anand was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 2001 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2002 for his contribution to Indian cinema. His career spanned more than 65 years with 114 Hindi films to his credit, of which he was the lead actor in as many as 110 films.

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the vulture Culture, when blood becomes the ink

I never thought i could see some one cry with dry eyes. Her eyes were dry casue they were replaying the scene when her 17 yr old was trying to make an extra buck, his fault- what he thought was metal came out to be an unexploded live shell.

While the 17 yrs old dies on the spot wiht this 14 yr old friend, both of whom found the shell while bathing in the river which ran next to their colony/skum(u choose the term), their mothers were as quiet as the blood stains al over the walls of the area.

Dead bodies are never pleasant, neither are injuries but still Police gave the emotionless quotes explaining what we all saw, residents walked in shock and journalists- well they had something more to do. Most wanted to click the pool of blood, while flies were on it, not flying. Many were feeling frustrated that the bodies were taken just before they arrieved. Many compared this blast to anoher blast where they could capture the dead body’s limbs in an order that provoked pain and puke. Few were disappointed on the fact that the families were not crying enuf, and when one female member started to beat her chest, they all lept to capture it.

There were few who pushed the camera to the lady whose neighbours had lost their sons and asked her to detail what she saw, wht she thought and wht did she do. After 5 min there was que to take a shot of the lady becasue she was hapy to pose wiht the blood stains, the shop where the havoc happened and the slippers which still had signs of the ppl who once wore it.

While the police blame the explosion on the shell a 60 yr oldl, who has been living in the Dhakka Basti of the Azad Colony where the blast occurred, said that the children died of poverty, “The blast took place because the children were trying to extract copper from a bomb in the shop. They were not educated enough to know that it was a bomb and hungry enough to hit it with a heavy rock.”

the distant attitude of the police, i understand. the shocked neighbours i understand even those who were posing, but US, i am not sure.

As we counted the dead and the injured a senior walked upto me and told me not to get disturbed, he dint say any more. because at some level the more pain we see, the more we write. Does blood fuel our ink?

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