India, Maharashtra

Mumbai RTI activist shot dead after petitions target illegal constructions, 2 held

Bhupendra Vira, a 60-year-old RTI activist was shot dead in his home at Vakola, Mumbai on Saturday evening. Many of his applications targeted a former corporator over illegal constructions in some areas and the corporator had received an order from the Lokayukta hours before the murder that four of his properties would be demolished based on behest of a complaint filed by the activist, police said. Two people have been arrested in connection with the case.

Vira was at home watching TV around 9 pm when he was short from the window of his hoem, in close range. The bullet pierced his right temple and the police said, “The bullet shot exited the other side of the head and has been recovered by the police.”

Vira’s wife, who was in the kitchen, didn’t hear the shot and was told by a neighbour passing by that there was blood in the bedroom. “When she checked she found her husband in a pool of blood,” said Virendra Mishra, zonal deputy commissioner of police. Vira was declared dead at V N Desai Hospital. A case of murder was registered in Vakola police station.

Initial investigations reveal that Vira’s petition had led to the demolition of several illegal constructions owned by a former corporator, Razza Khan, who has got himself admitted to VN Desai Hospital. “We are waiting for his discharge. Meanwhile, we are probing if there were any other persons with a motive,” said an officer. But the superintendent of the hospital Dr Ashok Bapu denied that Khan had been admitted to the hospital.

Khan, of Congress (S), was corporator from 1985 to 1992. “The dispute between Khan and Vira has been going on for five to six years. It is suspected that a gala (shop) belonging to Vira had been grabbed by Khan. Vira started filing complaints against the illegal structures of Khan which led to demolition of couple of his holdings.

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