The family of RTI activist and India Against Corruption's Madhya
Pradesh chapter head Shehla Masood, who was killed here last
month, feels the probe into the case would have acquired more
urgency had Anna Hazare and his associates "raised the issue the
way they should have".
"I cannot say why after saying a few lines initially, no member of
Team Anna raised the issue the way they should have. Now, we are
only two people left in the family. If they had come forward and
raised the issue, it would have been a different story
altogether," Shehla's 72-year-old father Sultan Masood told IANS.
Shehla was shot in the neck while she was starting her car outside
her home on the morning of Aug 16, sending shockwaves across the
state and beyond. It was on the same day that Hazare began his
fast against corruption.
Initially being probed by the Madhya Pradesh police, the case was
handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Sep 5.
What made the case even more murky was that several high profile
names cropped up during the probe, including those of Bharatiya
Janata Party (BJP) leaders Tarun Vijay and Anil Dave and Bhopal
legislator Dhruv Narayan Singh, apart from senior police officers
and even the mining mafia.
Activists claimed that Shehla was targeted as she was not only a
green crusader but had also filed several Right to Information (RTI)
applications in different departments of the Madhya Pradesh
Speaking to IANS, Shehla's younger sister Ayesha Masood said the
support of Team Anna members Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal,
former Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Administrative
Service (IAS) officers respectively, could have added momentum to
At least Bedi, being a woman, should have realised the perils of
being a young woman activist, Ayesha said.
Ayesha, an MBA living in the US, added: "We strongly believe that
Shehla's murder is linked to Madhya Pradesh-centric issues, but
still, being part of India Against Corruption, the support of Team
Anna members would have played a significant role in getting
Both father and daughter vehemently criticised the Madhya Pradesh
police for their attitude.
"How can police say we did not cooperate with them? Not only us,
even our relatives provided all the information and documents to
police," Sultan said.
"Whenever and whatever they wanted, we gave. It is a very painful
statement when they say that a family whose young daughter was
killed did not cooperate with them," he rued.
Ayesha added: "After only a few hours of investigation, CBI found
her pendant and files from the car, which the police kept with
them for 20 days but could not get anything significant. They kept
the mobile phone and made calls from it. They tampered with the
vital evidences of the murder."
She said police first termed the case a suicide, then a property
dispute, and finally attempted to malign Shehla's personal life.
Ayesha, who has been living in the US for the last 12 years,
compared the police investigations of the two countries.
"The approach of American police is very professional. Even there,
we have lobbies of every kind, but they do not get influenced by
the high and mighty. Both the father and daughter however
expressed confidence in the CBI.
Since the murder took place, a few policemen have been deployed
outside their house, but Ayesha is still uneasy.
"So far, we have not got any direct threat from anybody, but as we
are pursuing the case strongly, a few neighbours have suggested
that we keep silent, as it will not be a difficult task for
Shehla's killers to eliminate the last two members of this family
as well," Ayesha said.
(Shahnawaz Akhtar can be contacted at email@example.com)