NHRC demands report on Maharashtra RTI activist’s suicide

Pune, April 15: The National Human Rights Commission Tuesday demanded a report from the Maharashtra government on the suicide of an RTI activist who had alleged that harassment by officials had driven him to end his life.

RTI activist, Vilas D. Baravkar, 53 was found hanging March 25 at his residence in Chakan, 33 km from Pune.

Police also recovered a suicide note on a stamp paper alleging that around four dozen prominent politicians, serving and retired bureaucrats and police officials were harassing him since long, driving him to take the extreme step.

On March 24, Baravkar had visited the office of the Khed tehsildar for some work and returned home in the evening. He then sent away his bodyguard Suresh Jadhav and wrote a two-page suicide note on Rs.100 stamp paper.

The NHRC issued notice to Maharashtra chief secretary and director general of police for a report on the incident within a fortnight.

It said that if the contents of the incident were true, it raised serious concerns about the human rights violation of an RTI activist.

Over the past few years, Baravkar had gained a formidable reputation as a whistle-blower against unauthorised building activities in the area.

Several RTI activists working in the fields of real estate, environment, sand mining and other fields have either been attacked or killed across the state in the past few years.

Among those who lost their lives in such attacks are Satish Shetty and Arun Sawant (both in January 2010), Vitthal Gite (April 2010), Dattatray Patil (May 2010), Ramdas Ghadegaonkar (August 2010), Premnath Jha (February 2012) and Rajesh Bobade (September 2012).

IANS