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Woman RTI activist shot dead in Madhya Pradesh

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BHOPAL: A city-based woman RTI activist was on Tuesday allegedly shot dead by an unidentified man in front of her residence in the posh Koh-e-Fiza locality, police said.


"Shehla Masood was shot dead around 11 AM when she was sitting in her car," Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Adarsh Katiyar said.


The motive and details of the killing are awaited, he said, adding a hunt has been launched to nab the assailant.


Shehla, who sat on a fast here recently in support of Anna Hazare's 'India Against Corruption' campaign had also been working on a number of other projects, including wildlife conservation. She was actively involved in raising issues related to the deaths of tigers in the various sanctuaries of Madhya Pradesh.


Known to be a hard worker, Shehla also ran a company called 'Miracles' which used to do various things, including event management.

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Bhopal, Aug 16 (IANS) An anti-corruption crusader and Right to Information activist, Shehla Masood, was Tuesday shot dead outside her residence here, police said.

Masood was in her car in Koh-e-Fiza area when she was shot in the neck, Inspector General of Police Sailendra Srivastava told IANS.

Masood headed the Madhya Pradesh chapter of India Against Corruption group. In April, she led protests when Gandhian Anna Hazare fasted in New Delhi for the first time.

'She was shot dead when she was on the driving seat. The car was parked at her residence,' Srivastava said.

Masood had Monday pledged to expose widespread corruption and that she had several vital documents to back her claims.

Masood was also a green activist and had fought for the Save Tiger project in Madhya Pradesh.

'As Shehla had raised questions regarding several tiger deaths across the state, people involved in the racket may have killed her,' social activist Ajay Dubey said.

He demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the killing. 'We have no faith on the state government, so the matter should be investigated by the CBI.'

--Indo-Asian news Service

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Shehla Masood last cry for protection goes unheard by the police..


please read the attachment & decide .


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Sajib Nandi

Woman RTI activist shot dead in Bhopal


As reported by http://www.thehindu.com on August 16, 2011:




A police woman inspects the car belonging to RTI activist Shehla Masood (left), who was shot dead while going for an anti-corruption rally in Bhopal on Tuesday.


A prominent Right to Information activist and supporter of social activist Anna Hazare's anti-corruption campaign was shot dead outside her residence in Bhopal on Tuesday morning.


Shehla Masood was shot dead by an unidentified assailant outside her house in the city's posh Koh-e-Fiza locality as she was on her way to an anti-corruption campaign being organised by her and other activists in support of Mr. Anna Hazare at the Bhopal Boat Club.


“We have registered it as a case of unnatural death. Anything more can be said only after the postmortem report,” Bhopal Senior Superintendent of Police Adarsh Katiyar told The Hindu.


Bhopal, not used to the professionally executed metro-style shootout, was stunned at the activist's death. “I am shocked. We had planned a proactive campaign where people would have been asked to write, on a 200-foot-wide banner, about the most corrupt government departments and officers in Madhya Pradesh,” Ajay Dube, RTI activist and long-time associate of Ms. Masood told The Hindu.


Ms. Masood, who also ran an event management company, had managed to constantly annoy the powers that be with her incisive RTI queries and public campaigns, mostly against corruption and for wildlife conservation. She was also a freelance journalist, contributing regularly to news website rediff.com on issues related to the environment and tiger conservation.


Last year, Ms. Masood had told the authorities she “feared for her life” from a senior officer of the Indian Police Service and had complained about the matter to two successive police chiefs of the State.


Ms. Masood had written to the current Madhya Pradesh Director-General of Police S.K. Raut, complaining against a particular officer.


In the letter, Ms. Masood had accused him of harassing her and making threatening calls to her, about which she had lodged a complaint at the city's Maharana Pratap Nagar Police Station in 2008.


“I fear for my life from [him]. Please do the needful and oblige,” she had urged the DGP.


The officer concerned, whose name The Hindu is withholding, did not answer calls or reply to text messages seeking his clarification on the matter. However, Bhopal IG Shailendra Shrivastava told The Hindu: “Yes, there was a complaint against the said officer. We sent Ms. Masood several notices offering probes at the thana level, additional SP level and DIG level, all of which she refused. Finally, I requested her to give me her statement. But she said she had filed a case against the said officer in Lokayukta and that she would give me a statement only once the Lokayukta probe was over.”


Like other RTI activists across India who have paid the ultimate price for making persistent and uncomfortable queries, Ms. Masood's efforts may well have put her in harm's way.


She was planning to file a Public Interest Litigation petition against a private college based on recent media reports. “It is a very powerful group of people, including local political leaders, that I will be up against once I file this PIL. I know who they are but I can't speak out much as I am still collecting information,” Ms. Masood had confessed, speaking to this correspondent last week.


Ms. Masood was also an active tiger conservationist and environmental crusader, constantly digging up information on the poaching mafia, illegal diamond mining mafia, timber mafia and the hospitality industry, which she said was violating environmental laws.


RTI activist shot in Bhopal hours before protest in support of Hazare


As reported by http://www.indianexpress.com on August 17, 2011:



Hours before she was to lead a campaign in support of Anna Hazare in Bhopal, where she had threatened to make public names of some “corrupt” officials, RTI activist Shehla Masood was shot dead outside her home today.


Masood, who was in her late 30s, was found slumped in her car around 11.30 am by her aunt, who came to check why she hadn’t driven away despite leaving her home at Koh-e-Fiza locality of Bhopal several minutes earlier.


SSP Adarsh Katiyar said there were no eyewitnesses and nobody had heard a weapon being fired. There was a single wound just below the neck. It was too early to speculate on the motive for the murder or whether the assailant was a professional shooter, the police said.


“I met her around 10.45 am at the house, and she was working on a laptop and appeared to be in a hurry,’’ said her maternal uncle S A Zaidi. She was to lead a campaign in support of Hazare around 2 pm.


Zaidi told The Indian Express that Masood’s father, a retired government librarian, had told the police about a complaint she had filed against an IPS officer, alleging a threat to her life.


In January 2010, Masood had written to the then DGP, saying the officer was harassing her. She had reportedly not been paid for the events she staged for a cultural body the officer headed. The letter, copies of which were marked to the chief minister, home minister and law minister, alleged that her complaint was not being taken seriously.


An event manager turned RTI activist, Masood had filed several applications under the Act over the past few years, aimed at bureaucrats and IPS officers.

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As reported by PTI in rediff.com on 17 August 2011:



Congress seeks CBI probe in RTI activist's murder


The police have set up five teams to investigate the murder of RTI activist Shehla Masood, a senior officer said on Wednesday, but the opposition Congress has demanded that the case be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation.


"We have constituted five teams to probe the murder," said newly-appointed Senior Superintendent of Police, Bhopal, Yogesh Choudhry.


Shehla was found shot dead inside her car in front of her house in the Koh-e-Fiza locality on Tuesday.


She had gone on a fast recently in support of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption campaign. She was also involved in other causes, including wildlife conservation, and the issue of deaths of tigers in sanctuaries in the state.


Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Ajay Singh has demanded a CBI probe.


"Shehla had been working for a long time as an RTI activist and many officials and politicians were affected by this," he said in a letter to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.


The murder probe must investigate corrupt politicians and officials affected by her work, he said.


The Congress leader further claimed that in January, Shehla had written to the state home minister, saying she feared a threat to her life from a senior police official.


But she was neither provided with security nor was the police officer questioned, Ajay alleged.

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As reported in expressbuzz.com on 17 August 2011:



IPS officer behind RTI activist’s murder?


BHOPAL: In a new twist to the murder of RTI activist Shehla Masood, who was shot dead on Tuesday, CNN-IBN on Wednesday accessed a letter which showed, Masood was being threatened by an IPS officer.


Five teams have been set up in Bhopal to investigate the murder of the RTI activist who was shot dead while on her way to a protest supporting anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare.

There have been no arrests yet. The police say that they have no witnesses as of now.


"Shehla Masood was shot dead around 11 am when she was sitting in her car," Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Adarsh Katiyar said. The motive and details of the killing are awaited, he said, adding a hunt has been launched to nab the assailant.


Masood's cremation took place on Tuesday night.


A keen wildlife enthusiast, she had filed at least 40 RTI applications involving forest and police officers.


Reports say she had recently complained of harassment and threats after she began pursuing the death of a tigress in Bandhavgarh National Park.


Known to be a hard worker, Shehla also ran a company called 'Miracles' which used to do various things, including event management.

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Sajib Nandi

Mafia strikes again


As published in www.deccanherald.com First Edit on August 18, 2011:



'The vulnerability of RTI activists is not new.''


The killing of a Right to Information (RTI) activist in Bhopal warrants a thorough probe. The victim, Shehla Masood filed RTI queries and carried out public campaigns related to corruption, environment and tiger conservation, etc.


She was on her way to participate in a public rally in support of anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, when she was shot dead. Masood’s questions and campaigns as well as her writings on controversial issues seem to have rattled vested interests, who were annoyed, perhaps even afraid that her questions would lay bare their illegal operations.


She had raised queries related to the poaching mafia, the timber mafia and those engaging in illegal diamond mining. Her commitment to unearth the truth resulted in her making many enemies, some of whom would have wanted her silenced. It appears that a senior policeman too had been harassing her. Thus it is not just those engaging in various illegal trades who were irked by her revelations but also those in positions of power who could have been patrons of these mafias. The government must throw the net wide in searching for her killers.


The vulnerability of RTI activists to threats and silencing by those whose illegal activities they seek to reveal is not new. In Karnataka, an RTI activist who’d file an application to expose the BDA’s involvement in a land scam case was killed in April 2009. A probe revealed the hand of four people linked to the contractors involved in the scam. There are cases across the country of those asking uncomfortable questions about how funds meant for social welfare programmes were spent or names of beneficiaries of land, housing, etc being beaten up, threatened, even killed. Maharashtra tops the list in killings of RTI activists.


The RTI is a powerful weapon in the hands of citizens of this country. Scamsters and their patrons are seeking to undermine it through intimidation of RTI activists. The latter must be protected. Providing them police protection is impossible given the large number of activists.


Those who file an RTI petition are expected to provide a photograph and address details. Can the government put in place foolproof measures to ensure that this information cannot be divulged? Activists say that clearing RTI applications quickly will go a long way in protecting them. Importantly, the RTI bureaucracy and the police must stand by the RTI activists, not by the mafia or their colleagues in government engaging in corruption.

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Guest pcbali

It is very sad news, it happened in Punjab also various times as covered by TV channels. But how this menace should be tackled, this is question. I myself fear that if life is more valuable or the causes.

The best I like, that the early disposal of RTI appeals in SICs, will give more protection to information seeker. The delay make the fire to burn in heart of guilty and he thinks that perhaps the elimination of seeker will help him to hide his misdeed. If the matter is ones open immediately, he is more inclined to save himself instead of retaliation.

Finally, this risk will ever remain involved in Social Service above oneself. This is way of life.

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CBI to probe RTI activist’s death


As reported by http://www.indianexpress.com on August 19, 2011:



The Madhya Pradesh government on Thursday agreed for a CBI inquiry into the death of RTI activist Shehla Masood. She was found dead in her car on Tuesday.


CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan asked the Home department to begin the process after Shehla’s family called on the DGP seeking a probe by a Central agency. The family said they did not trust the local police.


The FSL and post mortem reports had said that a single shot had been fired from a very close range when the car windows were closed. The relatives, however, confronted the investigators saying she was found holding a mobile phone in one hand and car keys in the other.


The decision also had to do with a visit paid to the grieving family by Congress leaders who said they would meet the PM seeking a probe by a Central agency.


On Wednesday, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh wrote to Chouhan seeking a probe to find Shehla’s killer, or killers. The activist was in regular touch with the minister when he held the Environment and Forests portfolio. Since the police maintained that there were no eyewitnesses and had made no headway in the case till Thursday, speculations over the motive were rife.

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As reported by Lalit Shastri in asianage.com on 20 August 2011:



Shehla worked hard to set things right


Shehla Masood’s assassin was obviously someone from among those she was never afraid to target as an RTI activist.


Shehla’s life was on fast track — always in a hurry to set right wrongs being done by those entrusted with powers under the Constitution. It was brutally cut short by a killer last Tuesday. Conceding Union minister Jairam Ramesh’s demand to immediately arrest the killers, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has decided to hand over the case to CBI.


Reacting to the brutal murder, Shehla’s friend Saad Bin Jung said she was a true conservationist who actually worked in the field, unlike other enthusiasts who operate out of drawing rooms.

An amazing woman, a true fighter bent on saving India from the curse of poachers and corrupt, that is how she is remembered here by many.


Another friend and admirer Brijesh Jain said that her space on Facebook, the social networking site, should not be deleted. It can become a great instrument in the ongoing battle against corruption. Shehla’s father Masood Sultan told this newspaper that she was always busy tracking acts of omission and commission by the high and mighty, using the RTI as tool.


Her close friends recalled how Shehla had become a fulltime social activist and a crusader for the cause of tigers, and for wildlife in general, after pursuing event management as a career for a few years.

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Mystery behind Shehla Masood's murder deepens




Bhopal: The mystery behind the murder of RTI activist Shehla Masood is deepening by the day. CNN-IBN has accessed letters written by Shehla to the Union Environmental Minister Jayanti Natrajan against illegal diamond mining in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh.


Phone records available also show that someone from Uganda was trying to get in touch with her hours after she was killed.


The letter from Shehla to Jayanti Natrajan was written as recently as July 25, 2011. Shehla in this letter wrote that she was in the process of corroborating facts that the collector of Chhatarpur had allowed illegal mining.


In the letter, she also said a PIL to this effect had been filed against Rio Tinto and that two collectors were removed from the district after they refused to allow illegal mining.


Shehla had written similar letters to two MPs Anant Gangaram Geete, and Jeetendra Singh Bundela.


These letters have been written on the letter heads of an NGO Udai of which Shehla was the president. The NGO was formed in 2004 but had moved towards wild life conservation only recently.


CNN-IBN has also accessed the phone records of Shehla. From 10:50 pm to 1:053 pm some one from Uganda from the number +256715753161 was trying to get in touch with her but she was already dead by then. These revelations show that the murder of the RTI activist is far from being an open and shut case.

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As reported in daily.bhaskar.com on 23 August 2011:



Shehla murder case: Eyewitness surfaces, Bhopal police tight lipped


Bhopal: Exactly a week after the mysterious murder of social activist Shehla Masood, the Bhopal police on Tuesday claimed to have come across important leads and also an eyewitness.


Confirming the report, IG Vijay Yadav said that investigating officials have got important clues concerning the sensational murder. However, he refused to divulge the identity of the eyewitness and other details, saying the probe was still on and doing so can have an adverse effect on the case.


Meanwhile, a team of officials is scanning images from the CCTV installed at Shehla’s MP Nagar office in search of more information.


The Bhopal police has already made it clear that it will quiz each and every person who were named by Shehla’s family.


Earlier, Shehla’s father Masood Sultan, without taking the name of a BJP leader, pointed out that the political leader may be behind her daughter’s murder.


Sultan added that apart from the leader he also suspects the role of an IPS officer and two other persons and that he has already informed the police about this.


Shehla’s father also pointed fingers towards a company involved in diamond mining in Panna. Sultan said that her daughter suspected some foul play by the company named Rio Tinto and had filed an RTI application to gather more information regarding it.

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As reported in news.outlookindia.com on 26 August 2011:



Shehla Masood Murder Case: BJP MLA to be Quizzed


BJP MLA Dhruv Narayan Singh is among the 18 persons who will be quizzed in connection with the murder of RTI activist Shehla Masood, police sources said today.


Singh is among the 18 persons who were either in contact with Shehla or who spoke to her regularly on her cellphone, they said


A notice would soon be sent to the Bhopal MLA, who would be called and his statement recorded, the sources said.


Shehla was murdered in broad daylight on April 16 in front of her Koh-e-Fiza residence here.

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An interview in outlookindia.com



“I Fear For My Life, But I’ll Go On”


Long pushing for protection of whistle-blowers, Shehla Masood might have made her point most forcefully in death. She had long learned to live with threats to her life, as she revealed in the last interview before she died. Excerpts:


How difficult is it for a whistle-blower to function?


I was threatened by local MLA Vishwas Sarang because I exposed corruption relating to forest produce. He sent me a court notice just to put me under pressure. I exposed Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s expenditure on household entertainment which ran into lakhs every month. The money was spent on chaat, sweets, lunches, bouquets, telephone bills and mobile bills. I was threatened by principal information officer (general administrative department) Aruna Gupta. She wrote a letter to the information commissioner saying I had stolen some records and lodged an FIR against me. It was a blatant lie because when she was asked to furnish details of the records stolen from her office, she failed to give anything. She was served with a showcause notice. I was also threatened by the protocol officer of the CM’s house, Sanjay Chauhan, because I exposed how lakhs were spent on sitting judges of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The money was spent on their stay in luxury hotels and travel. I also drew attention towards the 12 serving judges who were involved in corruption. These judges came to the wedding of the son of principal secretary (law) in December 2010 and the expenses were borne by the state government. I draw strength from these threats. But at the same time, I realise that the government is not serious in protecting whistle-blowers. I believe this is because of political pressure. There is no political will to fight corruption. And I am sorry to say that there is very little unity among the activists as they also have vested interests.


How does one work in this situation?


See, I am being constantly threatened. I was threatened by Pawan Shrivastava (currently IG, police training institute, Indore) in 2008. He is thoroughly corrupt. His proximity with politicians allows him to commit deeds which are immoral and against the law. He is a perpetual law offender. He is close to a few RSS leaders and to the vice-president of BJP’s Madhya Pradesh unit, Anil Dave. I filed an RTI application in 2008 to gather information on the tender process adopted by the cultural department. The day I filed it, Pawan Srivastava called me on my mobile and not only threatened me with dire consequences but also abused me. I have recorded part of his conversation which corroborates my claim. However, that recording and complaints to senior police officers and to Union home minister P. Chidambaram have hardly helped me. I fear for my life. But I will continue working and carry on.


What issues are you fighting for?


I’m fighting for good governance, transparency, police reforms and environmental issues like tiger conservation. I’ve been using the RTI Act since 2005 as a tool to collect evidence. It is the nexus between politicians and babus which is slowly poisoning our country. The fight is between the powerful and weak and I represent the weakest and the poorest of society.

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Top cop quizzed in Shehla Masood case




BHOPAL: An embarrassed police today recorded the statement of an IPS officer in the Shehla Masood murder case while efforts are on to take the statement of an MLA of the ruling BJP. The police are obviously uncomfortable.


"We have taken statement of Pawan sir," a senior police official told TOI, "Dhruv ji ka statement bhee ho jaayega" (Dhruv Singh's statements would also be recorded), a senior police official told the TOI sheepishly.


Pawan Shrivastava is IG and posted at Ahilya Bai Police Training Centre (ABPT) in Indore while Dhruv Narayan Singh is a BJP MLA from Bhopal. Both are influential. While Shehla had written a letter to the director general of police of MP three years ago complaining about Shrivastava, Dhruv was also close to her and his mobile call details have led to the police to quiz him.


Before she turned an RTI activist, Shehla ran an event management company and Shrivastava was heading culture department. Shehla's company's payment was due from the dept and there was some dispute. Shehla had alleged that when insisted on her dues, Pawan had threatened her and "she fears risk to his life from him". After she was found dead on August 16, Shehla's family wanted the police to investigate the Shrivastava angle.


Police sources said the call details from the two mobiles of Shehla Masood had shown long conversations with Dhruv Singh. The police said that they were asked few questions like for how long they knew Shehla, and for how many times they had talked, whether she had ever said something that can be correlated with her murder etc.


"We have quizzed a large number of people who were related to Shehla, either personally or professionally. The statements of these two are also being taken in the same way," said Bhopal SSP Yogesh Choudhry.


Meanwhile, the family is still waiting for the CBI to take over the case as recommended by the MP government a few days ago.

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As reported by Suchandana Gupta in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 29 August 2011:



Ex-CM's son quizzed in Shehla murder case


BHOPAL: The son of a former Madhya Pradesh chief minister has been questioned by police in connection with RTI activist Shehla Masood's murder. Two other BJP leaders have been sent notices to appear before the investigating team.


BJP MLA from Bhopal Dhruv Narayan Singh, who is also the son of former late chief minister Govind Narayan Singh, has been questioned about his relationship with Masood. Of the two other BJP leaders, one is said to be close to Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, the prime accused in the Malegaon blasts case. The other is a sitting Rajya Sabha MP. An IPS officer and a member of an erstwhile Chhattisgarh-based royal family are also to be interrogated.


Masood had stepped out of her home at 11am on August 16 to join Anna Hazare's Jan Lokpal bill campaign at the boat club in Bhopal. She was later found dead with a bullet wound in her neck in her car parked outside her home. Sources in the police department said most of the suspects are Masood's former friends who later began evading her.


Their rifts occurred after Masood became an RTI activist. Police also suspect that her murder could have been executed by a shooter from Bhind district in Chambal.


Masood ran an event management company, Miracles, until 2009. It organized a number of programmes hosted by the state culture department including a dance show performed by BJP MP Hema Malini in Bharat Bhavan multi-arts centre in Bhopal in July 2008. Sources in police headquarters revealed that at least one major RSS function held outside the statewas also organized with the help of Miracles. Masood got these assignments allegedly upon the insistence of Dhruv Narayan.


Her differences with IPS officer Pawan Shrivastava (now DIG Indore) started around this time. Shrivastava was then director, culture department. Masood acquiring government assignments through Dhruv Narayan allegedly upset Shrivastava, and he refused to clear her payments after which she complained to the state's DGP SK Rout and the home minister, claiming a threat to her life from Shrivastava.


During the interrogation, Dhruv Narayan admitted that not only was Masood in touch with him but he was also attached to her NGO Uday for a while. However, he said he later had differences with the RTI activist. "She used to speak to me often", Singh told cops. BJP sources, however, said that Singh had started avoiding her since early this year. Police are also probing why the friend of a prominent BJP leader had purchased property for her in the outskirts of Bhopal; he was instrumental in setting-up a meeting between the BJP leader and Masood.

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RTI activist murder: 3 BJP men face heat

Suchandana Gupta TNN



Bhopal: Three BJP leaders, including the son of a former Madhya Pradesh chief minister, are to be questioned in the RTI activist Shehla Masood murder case, said state police sources on Sunday. BJP MLA from Bhopal Dhruv Narayan Singh, son of former late CM Govind Narayan Singh, has already been questioned on his relationship with Masood.

Two other BJP leaders have been sent notices to appear before the investigation team. One of them is known to have been close to Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, accused in Malegaon blasts case. The other is a RS MP. An IPS officer and a member of an erstwhile royal family are among the 18 people who are to be interrogated. Masood was gunned down outside her home at on August 16.


One of the two BJP leaders asked to appear before the probe team is allegedly close to Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur. The other is a Rajya Sabha MP

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As reported by Deshdeep Saxena in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 31 August 2011:



CM declares Rs 1L reward for clues in Shehla case


BHOPAL: Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said that he would write to the CBI again to take up the Shehla Masood murder case. The government had recommended an inquiry by the CBI two days after the murder, but the agency had not yet responded.


Talking to mediapersons at his residence Wednesday, Chouhan also announced a reward of Rs one lakh to anybody giving clues leading to arrest of Shehla's murderer.


An RTI activist, Shehla Masood was murdered on August 16 while she was proceeding to attend an India Against Corruption rally in Bhopal. She was shot dead by an anonymous assailant from pointblank range in her Santro car when she was still sitting in the driver's seat.


So far, the Bhopal police are clueless even after quizzing more than 50 people including an IPS officer posted in Indore, a sitting BJP MLA from Bhopal, RTI activists, social workers, a host of media persons and family members.


A senior police official involved in the investigations told TOI, "So far the investigations are based on the call details of Shehla's two mobile phones. We have found an important witness and are trying to get information from him." However, he refused to disclose identity of witness.


Police have also scanned details of several RTI applications filed by Shehla, her laptop and also a large number of documents seized from her MP Nagar office. However, the police are silent over why a BJP MP, who had been interacting with the RTI activist on a regular basis, has not been quizzed so far.


Shehla's family had named some suspects among whom were people related to a mining company involved in a project in a Bundelkhand district. Shehla was vociferously demanding details of the project and objecting over it., saying that the project was harming the environment of the region, her family told police.


Till August 30, the CBI had not got the recommendation of the state government. Home department confirmed the request was made on Aug 19. The file may not have reached the CBI headquarters because of a procedural delay.

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Sajib Nandi

CBI probe an option in RTI activist's murder: P. Chidambaram


As reported by http://economictimes.indiatimes.com on 1 September 2011:



NEW DELHI: Calling the murder of RTI activist Shehla Masood as a "serious" matter, Home Minister P. Chidambaram today said Madhya Pradesh can request for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the killing.


"If there is a request that the case should be taken over by the CBI, certainly in consultation with the department of personnel and training (DoPT) which is the administrative ministry, and the CBI we will take an appropriate decision. First, there must be a reference from the government," he told reporters here.


The home minister said that it is a serious matter and cannot be taken lightly.


"If there is a letter from state government regarding this, we will address it with the urgency required," he said.


Masood, an anti-corruption crusader and Right to Information (RTI) activist, was shot outside her home in the Koh-e-Fiza area on the morning of Aug 16.


Masood headed the Madhya Pradesh chapter of India Against Corruption group. In April, she led protests when activist Anna Hazare fasted in New Delhi for the first time.


The day before her murder, Masood had pledged to expose widespread corruption and said she had several documents to back her claims.

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Sajib Nandi

Shehla Masood murder: MP govt plea for CBI probe reaches Centre


As reported by http://www.hindustantimes.com on September 01, 2011:



The Centre has received a letter from Madhya Pradesh government requesting for a CBI probe into the murder of RTI activist Shehla Masood in Bhopal. Official sources said the letter was received last week by the Department of Personnel from the state government but the same was yet to be

sent to CBI for its opinion.


The DoPT was expected to send the letter soon to CBI for its opinion on whether the agency wanted to take up the investigations into the case.


Masood was shot dead when she was going towards her car outside residence in posh Koh-e-Fiza locality in Bhopal on August 16.


Madhya Pradesh Police, probing the case, is likely to question BJP leader Tarun Vijay.


A question about Masood was also asked to Home Minister P Chidambaram, who said "if they consult the MHA, we will give our views. It is a serious matter.


"It can't be taken lightly. If there is a letter, we will certainly address it with the urgency it requires. We will take an appropriate decision. But first there must be a reference to the government," he said at a press conference here.


Asked whether Masood had written any letter to the home ministry seeking security before her murder, the home minister said "I can't recall having received any letter".


Union home secretary RK Singh, who was also present in the press conference, too pleaded ignorance about receiving any such letter from the murdered RTI activist.

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BJP backs Tarun Vijay in Shehla Masood murder case




New Delhi, Sep 2 (ANI): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday came out in full defence of its lawmaker Tarun Vijay, who is likely to be quizzed by the Madhya Pradesh Police in connection with RTI activist Shehla Masood's murder case.


"I think it is an absolute trash and if anyone has an association or friendship or has been supporting a cause. Mr. Tarun Vijay has been a journalist. It is a very said incident, which has happened. The investigations are on and I think anyone getting to the roots of the murder, which took place is a process which should happen," BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy told mediapersons outside Parliament here.


"I believe that the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh has already handed over the case to the CBI. But it's absolutely wrong to attribute charges or assume that someone, who is a friend, I am sure if there is any information, which would help them to get to the core of crime or criminal that would assist them. But it's absolutely trash and wrong to attribute any allegations against such Members of Parliament," he added.


Responding to a question on whether the murder case had caused an embarrassment for the BJP, Rudy said: "I think it is more of a political situation, which has been created. They (BJP leaders) are very humble, dignified and we know personally the two Members of Parliament. We know their background, their standing in public and it would be absolutely wrong to assume things against them."


"In fact, if Mr. Tarun Vijay has been a friend, he is all ready to come along and give them (investigating agencies) inputs necessary. And if that would help to track down the culprits, I think it would be a great contribution," he added.


Tarun Vijay had on Thursday refuted all charges about being involved in the murder case, and said that he was working vigorously to ensure that Shehla got justice.


"Shehla Masood was a brave RTI activist. She was the convener and campaigner for India Against Corruption in Madhya Pradesh. We are at shock after hearing about her murder. We want justice for Shehla. Her family is passing through a very bad time. I hope the whole thing is not politicized," Vijay had said.


"We stand by the family of Shehla, and every right thinking Indian will stand by them. Whatever information we have, we will provide to all the investigating agencies. We are much more concerned to get justice for Shehla. We are working vigorously to see that Shehla is provided justice," he added.


Masood had spoken to Vijay for 45 minutes on the day of her murder and the night before murder.


Masood was shot dead by an unidentified assailant outside her house in Bhopal's posh Koh-e-Fiza locality on August 16 as she was on her way to join an Anna Hazare related rally. (ANI)

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MP Govt. to provide full assistance to CBI in Shehla Masood murder case



Bhopal, Sep 7 (ANI): Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Umashankar Gupta on Wednesday said the state authorities would assist the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) with vital information into RTI activist Shehla Masood's murder case probe.


Gupta said that the state authorities would comply with the CBI and facilitate probe into the murder case.


"The state police authorities have now handed over the case to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and they are carrying out investigations into the murder of the activist. Local police authorities have handed over all vital papers to the federal police on our ministry's orders," Gupta told mediapersons here.


"However, if the CBI asks us for any information in regards to the case, we would provide them full assistance and look into the matter if they want us to," he added.


Ayesha Masood, sister of the slain RTI activist earlier in the day alleged tampering of crucial evidence by the police that was earlier investigating the matter.


"So many people across the world are working for Shehla and our own local government and administration is not wanting a solution for this. What should we read of it? What do we interpret of it," she said.


Masood was shot dead by an unidentified assailant outside her house in Bhopal's posh Koh-e-Fiza locality on August 16 as she was on her way to join an Anna Hazare related rally. (ANI)

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IANS India Private LimitedBy Shahnawaz Akhtar | IANS – Sun, Sep 11, 2011


Bhopal, Sep 11 (IANS) The family of RTI activist and India Against Corruption's Madhya Pradesh chapter head Shehla Masood, who was killed here last month, feels the probe into the case would have acquired more urgency had Anna Hazare and his associates 'raised the issue the way they should have'.


'I cannot say why after saying a few lines initially, no member of Team Anna raised the issue the way they should have. Now, we are only two people left in the family. If they had come forward and raised the issue, it would have been a different story altogether,' Shehla's 72-year-old father Sultan Masood told IANS.


Shehla was shot in the neck while she was starting her car outside her home on the morning of Aug 16, sending shockwaves across the state and beyond. It was on the same day that Hazare began his fast against corruption.


Initially being probed by the Madhya Pradesh police, the case was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Sep 5.


What made the case even more murky was that several high profile names cropped up during the probe, including those of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Tarun Vijay and Anil Dave and Bhopal legislator Dhruv Narayan Singh, apart from senior police officers and even the mining mafia.


Activists claimed that Shehla was targeted as she was not only a green crusader but had also filed several Right to Information (RTI) applications in different departments of the Madhya Pradesh government.


Speaking to IANS, Shehla's younger sister Ayesha Masood said the support of Team Anna members Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal, former Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers respectively, could have added momentum to the case.


At least Bedi, being a woman, should have realised the perils of being a young woman activist, Ayesha said.


Ayesha, an MBA living in the US, added: 'We strongly believe that Shehla's murder is linked to Madhya Pradesh-centric issues, but still, being part of India Against Corruption, the support of Team Anna members would have played a significant role in getting justice.'


Both father and daughter vehemently criticised the Madhya Pradesh police for their attitude.


'How can police say we did not cooperate with them? Not only us, even our relatives provided all the information and documents to police,' Sultan said.

'Whenever and whatever they wanted, we gave. It is a very painful statement when they say that a family whose young daughter was killed did not cooperate with them,' he rued.


Ayesha added: 'After only a few hours of investigation, CBI found her pendant and files from the car, which the police kept with them for 20 days but could not get anything significant. They kept the mobile phone and made calls from it. They tampered with the vital evidences of the murder.'


She said police first termed the case a suicide, then a property dispute, and finally attempted to malign Shehla's personal life.


Ayesha, who has been living in the US for the last 12 years, compared the police investigations of the two countries.


'The approach of American police is very professional. Even there, we have lobbies of every kind, but they do not get influenced by the high and mighty. Both the father and daughter however expressed confidence in the CBI.


Since the murder took place, a few policemen have been deployed outside their house, but Ayesha is still uneasy.


'So far, we have not got any direct threat from anybody, but as we are pursuing the case strongly, a few neighbours have suggested that we keep silent, as it will not be a difficult task for Shehla's killers to eliminate the last two members of this family as well,' Ayesha said.

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As reported by PTI in deccanherald.com on 16 Sep 2011:



Rs.5 lakh cash reward for information on Shehla murder


With no signs of a breakthrough, CBI today announced a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh to anyone providing credible information about the murder of RTI activist Shehla Masood outside her house in Bhopal on August 16.


Source in the agency said despite being a broad daylight incident in a crowded locality, no eyewitness has come forward to give information about it.


"The informer giving reliable information about person(s) involved in the Shehla Masood murder which leads to their arrest will be rewarded with Rs 5 lakh by CBI. The identity of informer will be kept confidential," CBI spokesperson Dharini Mishra said.


The CBI is also looking for the murder weapon which has not yet been traced.

Sources said that the award amount might encourage the elusive eyewitness or people having some clue about the crime to come forward and share the information.


"It is strange that a woman who is an RTI activist is shot outside her home in broad daylight in a crowded locality yet no one has any knowledge about it. It may be that there is something that is holding people back from sharing information with the authorities," an official said.


On September 3, Bhopal unit of the agency registered a case in the murder of Masood after it was referred to it by the Madhya Pradesh Government.


Shehla was shot dead when she was going towards her car outside her residence in posh Koh-e-Fiza locality in Bhopal on August 16.


Madhya Pradesh Police could not figure out the motive but suspected she may have been eliminated by some powerful persons against whom she had filed RTI applications.


Shehla had earlier gone on a hunger strike in Bhopal in support of Anna Hazare's cause. She was also involved in other causes, including wildlife conservation.


Her father Sultan Masood had said he expected no justice, being a lower middle-class person, and did not think that police was probing the case sincerely.


He had alleged that in January, Shehla had filed a complaint with the Lokayukta that she feared threat to her life from a senior IPS officer but no action was taken.

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Atul Patankar

As reported by Gethin Chamberlain at guardian.co.uk on 24 September 2011



Shehla Masood battled corruption in India. Was that why she was killed?


For many of her 38 years, Shehla Masood had campaigned tirelessly against corruption. Glamorous and combative, she had embraced India's Right to Information Act with gusto, rattling out applications in all directions, exposing wrongdoing at the highest levels of Madhya Pradesh state where she lived, upsetting many powerful people with a great deal to lose. Judges, police and politicians from the local ruling BJP party had all come into her sights and been exposed for misusing public cash.


In recent months, she had 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 finest strands of teak forest in the country.


Then, on 16 August, Shehla was found dead in her car outside her home in a prosperous area of Bhopal, with a single gunshot to her neck. More than a month later, the investigation has hit a brick wall. Even the offer of a £7,500 reward – an enormous sum for India – has failed to elicit a single witness to a killing that took place in broad daylight in a busy street.


It is Tuesday morning in that same respectable street in Bhopal. A large khaki tent is pitched opposite Shehla's house. Four police officers, posted to guard her family, sprawl inside on charpoys, fast asleep. The road leads to a large slum, whose residents pass regularly in front of the house, much as they must have done on the morning she died.


It was Shehla's father, Sultan Masood, who found her lying with her head back in the front seat of her little silver Hyundai Santro car. "I called: 'Shehla, Shehla', but she didn't speak. I took some water and splashed it on her face and then her dupatta [scarf] slipped down and I noticed the black hole in her neck. I started screaming: 'Somebody has killed my daughter, someone has shot my daughter.'"


It is almost inconceivable that no one saw the killer or heard the shot, but Shehla's fate appears to have been a warning to others to keep silent.


For Shehla, though, silence was never an option. In the past few months, she had targeted Rio Tinto's diamond plans. Environmentalists feared that the mine project in Chhatarpur district – inaugurated by the chief minister in 2009 – threatened the watershed of Panna Tiger Reserve and the Shyamri river.


In a letter to India's home minister in July, she 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."


The high court of Madhya Pradesh had already ordered the national and state governments to explain why mining had been permitted, according to the petition, "in gross violation of rules and regulations".


Shehla planned to launch her own legal challenge and had started to file right-to-information applications to gather evidence.


Shehla's younger sister, Ayesha, has returned from the US, where she is studying microbiology, and has been trying to make sense of what happened, ploughing through her computer hard drive, digging out her correspondence, looking for a clue. Sitting in the living room of the elegantly furnished, two-storey family home, the 34-year-old said: "She 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."


Ayesha Masood fears the killing is linked to those who stood to gain from the deal with Rio Tinto. Gopal Krishna, founder of the Delhi-based ToxicsWatch Alliance, had been working with Shehla in the weeks before her death. He said she had just started making fresh right-to-information applications and planned to launch her own public-interest challenge to the mine in the high court.


Vinita Deshmukh, a journalist and activist who has followed the case closely, said: "It was more convenient and more economical perhaps to snuff out the life of Shehla. Money and power almost always overpower the laws of this country, especially when it comes to big projects that generally throw up lucrative commissions and kickbacks to officers and elected representatives."


Madhya Pradesh's home minister, Uma Shankar Gupta, dismissed such suggestions. It was "unfortunate" that she was killed, he said, but no one in government wanted her dead: there were plenty of more capable right-to-information activists and nothing had happened to them.


As for the Rio Tinto mine, it could not possibly be illegal, he said: "If the chief minister went over and inaugurated it, it has to be legal."


Rio Tinto, which is investing £292m on what it calls the Bunder project, vehemently denies that the mine has anything to do with Masood's murder.


A spokesman said: "Rio Tinto started exploring for minerals in India in 1996 after the sector was opened for foreign direct investment. In 2004, Rio Tinto made news across the world with the discovery of significant diamond deposits at the Bunder project in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. We are currently at the evaluation stage and doing detailed studies while our application for a mining lease is pending with the government of India. We have a very strict, transparent ethics policy that is uncompromising no matter where we operate.


"We learned through the media of the shocking death of Ms Masood, for which we extend our sympathy to her family and friends. We join with the community of Bhopal in condemning such acts of violence and the loss of life.


"We cannot understand why our name is bring linked with this tragedy. We never met nor had any contact with Ms Masood and are unaware of any communication she had with the ministry of environment and forest. We have had no communication with the CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] so are unaware of any details about the investigation."


The man in charge of the murder inquiry, Deputy Inspector General Hemant Priyadarshy, thinks it was a professional job. All the possible motives are being considered, he said. "We are speaking to everyone. Nobody is outside the reach of the law."


His job would be simpler had Shehla chosen to tackle fewer establishment figures. "I fear for my life," she said in an interview a month before her death. "But I will continue working and carry on … It is the nexus between politicians and babus [officials] which is slowly poisoning our country. The fight is between the powerful and weak and I represent the weakest and the poorest of society."


The day she died she was due to pick up the responses to a right-to-information request on judges' expenditure, before addressing a rally in support of national anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare's hunger strike (she was his campaign organiser in the state) and inviting people to name and shame corrupt politicians and officials. She was winning praise from the national BJP party in Delhi through her close friendship with one of its MPs, Tarun Vijay, but that only seemed to breed jealousy and fear of her influence in the local party. Someone was spreading rumours that Shehla, a Muslim who also worked as an events organiser, was a spy for Pakistan. And then there was her acrimonious dispute with a senior police officer, whom she had accused of corruption.


Ayesha Masood sits in the living room, rattling through the list. She seems uncertain where to turn next, unsure that the police will crack the case, seeing the reward as a sign of desperation. The family demanded the local police be taken off the investigation after they initially concluded that Shehla had shot herself, despite no weapon being found at the scene. They are happier now that the CBI is in charge, but still she doubts that they will get justice. "If highly influential people are involved, India is very good at sacrificing its own citizens," she said.


There is no doubt that Shehla made many enemies during her years of anti-corruption activism. The identity of her killer may prove elusive for some time to come.

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