RTI Activist Who Was Exposing Allegedly Unlawful Mining by Cement Firms Killed in Meghalaya

Between 2005 and 2016,  about 56 RTI activists across the country have been killed.

New Delhi: Right to Information (RTI) activist Poipynhun Majaw, 38, who was known for exposing alleged misuse of public funds in Meghalaya, died after receiving a crushing blow to his head on Tuesday.

“We found wounds on his head probably caused by a heavy iron object. This looks like a case of murder, but we are waiting for the post mortem report to find the culprits and uncover the motive behind the murder,” Nazarius Lamare, the district’s superintendent of police, told The Hindu.

The police said that Majaw’s body was discovered at Khliehriat, near the headquarters on Rymbai Road of East Jaintia Hills district, bordering Bangladesh and a prime mining area in the state. A wrench was found next to the body.

It is suspected that Majaw was killed because his investigation into the dealings between the heads of the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) and cement companies was about to reach fruition. The aforementioned cement companies are allegedly mining limestone without permission as the JHADC turns a blind eye.

This was not the first tryst Majaw had with exposing this nexus. Last year, using the RTI, Mahaw had exposed the misuse of public funds by the JHADC, as the cement companies were in violation of the provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the constitution by mining limestone without permission.

The cement companies are owned by non-locals and have been accused of harming the environment and acting against the interest of locals by indulging in unlawful mining.

The RTI Act, introduced during the previous UPA regime, was aimed to be a revolutionary legislation that would hold government officials up for scrutiny and promulgate transparency. However, those who use the transparency law to address corruption and report malpractices are faced with harassment and even death.

Between 2005 and  2016,  about 56 RTI activists have been killed for using the Act for exposing corruption and malpractices, as documented in a report by the Times of India. The counts of harassment recorded were 311 since the law came into place in 2005. These are just the cases that have been recorded, many more cases may have gone undocumented.