BENGALURU: The murder of RTI activist Murthy on December 22 is taking a political turn, though police have tried to brush it off as a consequence of a family dispute. Murthy’s family member and advocate Shilpa Rani filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission, alleging that the murder was due to his RTI activism and not a family dispute, as alleged.
It is said that he was threatening to expose the scams of the local panchayat in Sathanur.
To back her statement, Shilpa Rani produced two police FIRs, one dated July 2022 when Murthy was assaulted by the same persons who are said to be behind his murder, and a second FIR dated October, when his house with attacked with beer bottles and other projectiles, again by the same group. Rani alleged that they were warning him to stop his RTI activism, and resorted to murder when he failed to heed the warnings. One particular relative had warned that they would kill him if he did not end his RTI activism.
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Director Venkatesh Nayak said it is common to brush off murders of RTI activists as family disputes, and there are many such instances in Maharashtra. He said given the trend of acquittals in most such killings in Karnataka, it remains to be seen whether the Sathanur police will probe the activism angle in Murthy’s case and identify the conspirators who masterminded the attack on him.
ALSO READ | Four held for RTI activist’s murder in Bengaluru
Statistics reveal that there have been 104 murders of RTI activists across the nation, of which 11 were in Karnataka. There are also about 184 instances of RTI activists getting assaulted nationally, and 18 cases were recorded in Karnataka. There have been no convictions in Karnataka until now.
On the police response, Shilpa Rani pointed out that although the murder took place on December 22, police only registered an FIR the next day. She also alleged that in the previous two cases of assault against Murthy, police registered a counter-case where the accused had made allegations against Murthy in return. She also alleged that in the July 2022 case, police are yet to file a chargesheet after five months, though it has to be mandatorily done in three months.