Letz Change D Rulz: Right to Information Activist Shehla Masood Killed
“The heart aches[sic] is unimaginable.” This August 14th post was the last written by activist Shehla Masood on her blog “Letz Change D Rulz.” Masood was referencing the death of her mother; however, two days later she was shot and killed, leading to an outpouring of grief by her supporters and colleagues.
Masood was an activist promoting India’s Right to Information Act of 2005, an environmental conservationist, and the president of the Progressive Muslim Women’s Association. Though it is not certain why she was killed, it is widely assumed that it was due to her promotion of the Right to Information Act, which is designed to give Indian citizens access to any document created by a public authority. The act also requires public authorities to proactively publish certain categories of information.
Since the law was passed, several activists have tried to use this law to obtain evidence of government corruption. However, RTI activists are harassed and sometimes killed by corrupt officials protecting their own interests. In 2010 alone at least ten Right to Information activists were killed. Several of them, like Masood, were also environmental activists against illegal mining and the poaching of tigers. Indian police claim “vested interests” connected to these businesses are responsible for Masood’s murder.
Activist Mukta Shrivasta said “We don’t know who is behind her killing. She was very much part of the anti-corruption movement. Her killing has once again raised the issue of safety of activists. In Maharashtra farmers protesting silently have been killed. It’s an emergency-like situation and democracy is at stake. Such acts show the reality of state repression and the sorry state of affairs.”
Read more about repression and censorship in India:
Filmmaker Leena Manimekalai: “Censorship feels like it’s mutilating my organs”