CHENNAI: At 10.39 am on Tuesday, I got a call from RTI activist J Parasmal. But his baritone appeared muffled by the commotion in the background and the line got disconnected.
I assumed it was because of network disturbance and ignored it. Later I learnt that Parasmal, one of the most active voices in the city against illegal constructions, had been silenced forever. Joining the dots, I realised it happened moments after I received that phone call.
Parasmal, 58, who turned into an RTI-cum-social activist when he was in his early 50s, was riding his bike in the narrow Baker’s Street at Periamet, when an armed gang chased, surrounded and hacked him before leaving him to bleed to his death.
The spot was just 1.5 km away from the police commissioner’s office. Parasmal would often enter court halls and newspaper offices with his petitions. Armed with RTI replies that sought to nail lethargic or conniving officials, he would urge journalists like me to write against them.
“They are all corrupt. You should expose them,” he would urge us. He would provide affidavits presented by the officials in court and their RTI replies, highlighting the contradictions. In the last two years, at least three buildings were sealed following his intervention.
His own building in Sowcarpet was sealed in 2014 in what he termed a vindictive act.