RTI activist shot dead at Vakola residence, had campaigned against land mafia

RTI activist shot dead at Vakola residence, had campaigned against land mafia
Activist Bhupendra Vira

A 60-year-old Right To Information (RTI) activist was killed in Mumbai on Saturday by a man who barged into his home in Vakola, held a gun to his head and fired.

Activist Bhupendra Vira had led a campaign against land mafia and encroachments in his Kalina colony, and recently complained to the police against a local strongman.

Activist and former Aam Aadmi Party leader Anjali Damania, who had worked with Vira, alleged that he was targeted by those involved in illegal land dealings.

“The assailant entered Vira’s residence around 9 pm yesterday, put a gun to his temple and fired. He died on the spot,” said a police officer.

Vira’s wife, who was in the kitchen, did not 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.

Vira was declared dead at V N Desai Hospital.

The police are investigating whether Vira had complained about any threat to his life. Damania alleges that he and several other activists had been threatened and they had also filed complaints.

Recently, Damania said, Vira had persuaded civic officials to issue four notices to a goon for illegal constructions.

The activist has three children, a daughter and two sons. One of the sons had allegedly been stabbed four years ago.

Vira was attached to the ‘Voice of Kalina’, a citizen’s group.

He had written several letters to the civic body and the Lokayukta or anti-corruption watchdog, asking for action against illegal structures.

AAP has alleged that the land mafia had tried to usurp Vira’s shop apart from several other properties in the area.

Police are probing former corporator Razza Khan, who allegedly received an order from the Lokayukta hours before the murder that four of his properties would be demolished based on a complaint filed by the activist.

“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 structures including Khan’s office,” said a political leader requesting anonymity told Indian Express.

Former information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi has urged State Chief Information Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad to ask for a speedy police enquiry and provide protection to Vira’s family.

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