New Delhi: It is an irony of humungous proportions. While on the one hand Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is going to town claiming credit for bringing in the RTI Act to fight corruption, on the other hand, one of her own party MPs, Naveen Jindal, is allegedly leaving no stone unturned to persecute RTI activists.
Speaking at a rally in Mangalore, Karnataka on Thursday, Sonia Gandhi had said that it was UPA, not NDA, which brought in the RTI Act because of which "scandals are stumbling out".
And just as she was making the address implying her party had empowered people, two accused were surrendering in Raigarh in a case of attempted murder of RTI activist Ramesh Agrawal, the conspiracy of which was allegedly hatched by steel magnate Naveen Jindal.
In an interview to Zee News, Ramesh Agrawal has accused the Congress MP of hiring contract killers to murder him.
It may be noted that the Ministry of Environment and Forest had cancelled the allocation of a coal block to Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) in Raigarh’s Tamnar for a power plant in response to a complaint filed by Agrawal.
Agrawal has alleged that contract killers were hired to get rid of him, as he was proving to be too much of an impediment for the JSPL’s ambitious plans in Raigarh.
“They first attempt to buy you; if they don’t succeed, then they threaten you by filing fake cases such as extortion; if they do not succeed again, then they simply kill you,” the RTI activist put it bluntly about Jindals.
Many political parties, including key UPA ally NCP, have come forward to demand justice for the RTI activist. While condemning the attack on Agrawal, NCP has demanded action in the matter.
The CPI has also condemned the attack on the RTI activist.
Ramesh Agrawal, 56, known for protecting local communities from industrial pollution and displacement due to industrial projects through the Right to Information Act (RTI), was shot at in his office in a congested locality of Raigarh in July this year. Though he miraculously survived the attack, he has been bedridden due to his grievous injuries.
Two bullets had been pumped into Agrawal soon after he was released on bail in what he describes as a fabricated case of extortion. The Jindal group is believed to have fallaciously slapped a Rs 5 crore extortion case against him after the clearance for the JSPL’s Tamnar Power Plant was cancelled by the Ministry of Environment and Forest on his complaint.
The Jindals are believed to have been particularly miffed after coal block allocation to the company in Tamnar had been scrapped by the National Green Tribunal as a result of Agrawal’s crusade.
While four people had been arrested earlier for the shootout, the surrendering of two kingpins in the case has exposed the Jindals completely. One of the accused KK Chopra is the Director of Security of a company by the name SFSS, which provides security to Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, while the other, S N Panigrahi is the Deputy GM of Security in Jindal’s plant in Angul, Orissa.