The broad day light murder of Shehla Masood in Bhopal has many known and numerous hidden facades that probably will be uncovered layer by layer as the investigation in the case progresses.
Ms.Masood was shot dead in front of her home at point blank range on 16th August while she was about to drive away to a protest march organized by her in support of Anna Hazare’s anti- corruption movement.
The fact that she was an active RTI ‘activist’ has attracted even more spotlight to the otherwise peaceful and calm city of Bhopal.
According to local reporters, there was some wisp of embezzlement that Masood had discovered relating to purchasing of large acres of land by the MP tourism for developing resort near Madai in Hoshangabad district. This resort was being developed in a partnership between local BJP leaders, a member of the erstwhile Royal family from Chhattisgarh and a prominent builder from Bhopal who enjoys a clout that even out-matches that of the Chief minister himself.
Ever since the BJP has come into power in the state for the second time under Shivraj Singh Chauhan, allegations of large scale corruption has surfaced time and again. Speculations that Masood penchant for using RTI to expose the unholy nexus between property- politicians led to her untimely death, are doing the round.
In an interview with a national magazine sometimes back, Masood had made no secret of the fact that she was cultivating enemies both in the executive and the legislature because of the trouble they were facing because of her RTI queries.
She had taken the name of the present CM and judges of MP high court and accused them of indulging in corruption. She had also accused BJP Rajya Sabha MP fom Madhya Pradesh, Anil Dave of patronizing corrupt police officers.
But the fact that she was a close acquaintance to another MP of the same party, Tarun Vijay, something which Tarun Vijay has himself accepted has given the whole incident a new meaning.
Masood, through her RTI applications was ‘pestering’ Dave by accessing facts about his business activities. She had filed an RTI asking for details about Narmada Samagraha, an NGO backed by the BJP Rajya Sabha MP. She also had filed applications with the Rajya Sabha Secretariat asking for details about BJP MPs from Madhya Pradesh.
But the twist in the tale is that Masood herself was organising events for the RSS backed Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Trust. And it has become hard for Tarun Vijay, the honorary Director of the said trust to deny the fact that he was aware of the fact that Masood was filing RTIs against his own party members.
Was she filing these RTIs on behest of Tarun Vijay is something that none of the BJP members have either accepted or denied.
Call records accessed by the investigating agencies have proved that the two used to talk for hours. Infact they had talked for more than half an hour, a day before she was shot dead.
Shockingly this combination of politics and murder is not new to this state. In February 1997, Sarla Mishra, a youth Congress worker died under mysterious circumstances due to burn injuries , allegedly for her liaison with a senior colleagues. And still 14 years later, there has been no answer to the question that who killed her.
Whether Masood was killed her RTIs or for something is that time will perhaps tell. Was she being used as a tool to settle political scores or had she become too ‘active’ for her mentors will hopefully come out in the open soon.
But what no one can deny is the fact is the involvement of the BJP leaders in the whole unfortunate incident.
I had met Ms.Mishra when I was in class 8th as she had come to my home along-with her colleagues and many years later I had the chance of getting acquainted to Ms.Masood when she had commented on my article which was carried out by a news-site.
I hope that the investigation into Masood’s death doesn’t turn into an unsolved mystery, just like it happened fourteen years ago.
For all of us.