Millennium Post

Ex-corporator, son held for RTI activist’s murder

A former corporator and his son were on Monday arrested in connection with the murder of a 72-year-old RTI activist, known for his battle against land mafia and encroachers, even as police suspect the killing to be the fallout of a land dispute.

RTI activist Bhupendra Vira, who had exposed encroachers and unauthorised constructions in and around Kalina in the city, was shot dead at point blank range on Saturday night when he was watching TV at his residence in suburban Santacruz.

The murder sparked strong reactions from anti-graft campaigners, saying that Maharashtra has become a dangerous place for whistleblowers with as many as 11 activists having been killed in the state in the last 10 years.

"Amjad Khan (53) and his father Razzaq Khan (78) were arrested this morning in connection with the case. Razzak was earlier a corporator in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. It looks like a land dispute led to the Khans killing Vira," Mumbai Deputy Commissioner of Police Ashok Dudhe said.

The duo were arrested after Vira's family members gave their names in the complaint, police said.

The two were later produced in a local court which remanded them in police custody till October 24.

"After arresting both the accused, Vakola police produced them in Andheri court which sent them in police custody for further probe," Deputy Commissioner of Police Virendra Mishra said.

Vira had filed some applications against the alleged illegal construction and land grabbing by Razzaq Khan, police said.

Razzaq, an ex-corporator of Congress from Santacruz, had got an order from Lokayukta for demolishing four illegal properties in the area on Vira's complaint, hours before the activist's murder, sources said.

Police are now investigating whether this order led to the murder of the RTI activist, a police officer said.

"We are investigating this fact also," he said.

Vira was staying as a tenant at the 'Razzaq chawl'.

Notably, Maharashtra has recorded the highest number of attacks and murders of RTI activists since this Act came into force in 2005.
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