B2 (1997-2011)

B2 (1997-2011)

Friday, 19 August 2011

In Memoriam : Shehla Masood – The dauntless tigress silenced

Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Shehla wrote in a blog post.

RTI crusader, wildlife conservationist, trekker, social causes leader, president Progressive Muslim Women’s Association, a born rebel, arguing with policy makers, foodie… This is how the slain activist and social worker Shehla Masood described herself in her twitter account.

She was just 38 years of age.  A fierce wildlife activist who dared to expose those who were mercilessly plundering our rivers, forests, killing tigers and destroying environment and eco-system. She was raising concerns about the nexus between the mining mafia and the ruling political regime. She feared for her life and had written to DGP Madhya Pradesh  { LINK } . The question is why Bhopal police ignores the well-defined threats?

On Tuesday 16th August she was gunned down right in front of her home by unidentified assailants. It clearly seems that taking advantage of the general chaos and the fact that the entire nation was gripped and being swallowed by the (anna)conda movement the mafia empire engineered her cold-blooded killing. Shehla Masood joins the unfortunate ranks of Satyendra Dubey, Shanmughan Manjunath, Shashidhar Mishra & 100s of others who got death by RTI.


She was a fearless Right To Information activist, a committed wildlife conservationist. She was seeking action against those responsible for the  brutal killing of  Jhurjhura tigress . The tigress,  a mother of three was brutally hit five to six times before she succumbs to fatal injuries. She was left to the mercy of God, with her three cubs destitute and failing to understand why their mother was seething in pain. The forest watched quiescent. Nothing was done to nab the accused as it happens in all wildlife crimes.

Shehla was fighting a legal battle to bring justice to the slain tigress. She dared to raise her voice against the rampant poaching of tigers  and the mining mafia which works hand in glove with the govt and the officials. Shehla challenged the issue of illegal Diamond mining project in Chhattarpur district, Madhya Pradesh by Rio Tinto and paid with her life like many other environmentalists and wild life conservationists who show dauntless courage to stand up against the all-powerful mafiosi. Fact sheet on Rio Tinto’s Illegal Diamond Mining in MP  (from an email attachment)

Just  as the accused are never convicted for wildlife crimes the accused for killing the wildlife activists are never punished.  Take the case of Swami Nighamanand , the crusader for river Ganges , the  nation has already forgotten his sacrifice.

Shehla’s father is not sure if the assailants of her courageous daughter will ever be nabbed as the police authorities have already started the cover up process by floating an utterly unbelievable crappy story about the suicide angle in Shehla death case. { Link } [LINK } .

Apart from those who love and support her cause No one, absolutely no one has come up to become the  torch bearer to get justice for Shehla Masood who herself was  a staunch Anna Hazare supporter. His concern is logical. Where are the anti corruption fasters, the anna brigade ? Has anyone given a single thought to the Slain RTI activist ? The nation is engulfed in mass hysteria over AH circus while citizens get murdered in broad day light and assailants sit comfy under the protection of politicians and corrupt officials .. Is anyone going on a hunger strike for these brave hearts ? The state of Madhya Pradesh for whose forests , rivers and wild life Shehla gave her life was shut down for anna andolan but did not mourn or condemn the killing of  Shehla.

If you be the change you want to see you are murdered. Shehla Masood dared to speak out and was gunned down right in front of her home. She was an eyesore for some bureaucrats, politicians, and industrialist of the State, as she had become very powerful as whistleblower. She had filed RTI queries against 19 IAS (Indian Administrative Service), 13 IFS (Indian Forest Service) and seven IPS (Indian Police Service), sources revealed. Some of mining mafias of the State also had grudges against her since she was working against them for longer time.

Social activist Ajay Dubey demanded probe by Central Bureau of Investigation, (CBI), India’s premier investigating agency, into the murder of Ms Shehla. He expressed doubt that since she had raised questions regarding several tiger deaths across the state forest officials who were involved in the racket may have got her killed. Mufti Arsh Shariff, a cousin of Ms Shehla Masood, revealed that she had got a threatening call from a Delhi number on Monday night. Speculations are on and while the police and higher authorities try to hush the matter those who stand for her will never  let her roar die. It will echo and haunt  every vigilant citizen of India.

My blood boils when I see how much is at stake for those who are fighting to keep our flora and fauna, rivers and mountains to breathe free and survive the human onslaught.  I wonder if those who are supporting AH (I hate to call it a movement) brigade really know what exactly they are crying hoarse for. Wildlife Conservation is not even remotely in the minds of people and that is the reason life of those who work for it has lost its value. Don’t know how many more it will take to awaken the masses, govt. we can forget about.

Right To Information has claimed ten more lives in the year 2010

1. Amit Jethwa – Gujarat – Shot to death – Enquiries about illegal mining that were a danger to the Gir reserve – July 20, 2010
2. Dattatreya Patil (farmer) – Kohlapur, Maharashtra – Beaten up and slashed with swords – Filed RTI against horse trading in Kohlapur Municipal Election – May 31, 2010
3. Vitthal Gite – Beed, Maharashtra – Killed by under the member’s scanner. – Exposed irregularities in a school in his village – April 21, 2010
4. Arun Sawant - Badlapur, Maharashtra – Shot dead Feb 26, 2010
5. Satish Shetty – Pune – Assaulted by assailants Exposed major land scams, near Mumbai-Pune expressway – Jan 13 2010
6. Vishram Laxman Dodiya - Ahmadabad – Shot dead – Sought info on illegal electricity connections in the city – Feb 11 2010
7. Shashidhar Mishra (street vendor) – Begusarai, Bihar – Shot dead – Filed more than a 1000 petitions before his murder – Feb 14 2010
8. Ramdas Ghadegaokar – Nanded, Maharashtra – Stoned to death – Took on the sand mafia – August 2010
9. Sola Ranga Rao – Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh – Found murdered – Filed a petition on funding of the village draining system – April 11 2010
10. Irfan Yusuf Qazi – Jaitapur,Mahrashtra – Killed when his scooter was hit by a police jeep –  Protested against nuclear power plant in Jaitapur – December 18, 2010

This post is not just about Shehla Masood it is also a tribute to all those brave hearts who stood against the system, for whom  RTI became a death warrant . Who is safe in this country? Not the common people certainly and those who raise their voices against unjust their days are numbered.

Isn’t it Ironic that  Tigers, wildlife crusaders and RTI activists are being hunted and killed mercilessly.. they are the endangered species.

We want justice for Shehla Masood . We want the killers nabbed and convicted. 

My earlier post on bloggers for tigers  

The spark that she left in everyone’s heart will become a flame,  her roar will not be silenced. 
Girte hain Sheh-Sawar hi Maidan-e-Jung me
Woh Tifl kya gire jo ghutno ke bal chale


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