In a stunning revelation, the police claimed on Thursday that a security guard working with private steel major Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) had hired contract killers to shoot a noted RTI activist who has a history of exposing industrial houses for flouting rules.
The police presented the three accused at a crowded Press conference in Raigarh town and said the interrogation revealed that the guard, who was working with JSPL through a security agency, had a key role in the daring attack on Ramesh Agrawal, 56, who was shot at twice in his office on July 7.
Agrawal was operated on more than once at a private hospital in Raipur and is still in the intensive care unit, though doctors have taken out both bullets from his body.
The accused security guard has been identified as Tarkeshwar Rai.
“Rai had given money to G Vyankatesh, who hired a few goons. The three of them have been arrested in Odisha last week and brought to Raigarh on transit remand. The attack plot was then revealed before the media by the police,” said Neha Pandey, Additional Superintendent of Police (city).
She added that the arrested men — Sunil Behra, Sanjay Das and Naresh Patro — were history-sheeters in the neighbouring Odisha, while one of the key accused, G Vyankatesh, was still at large.
“Sunil Behra revealed during police interrogation that he was given `10,000 to kill Agrawal. Police teams would soon be sent to track down Vyankatesh,” Pandey said.
Asked about motive behind the attack, Inspector General of Police Ashok Juneja told The Pioneer over the phone, “Very soon, the mastermind behind the attack will be in police clutches and then I will be able to give you more details about the sequence of the attack.”
JSPL has massive business interests in Raigarh district and Agrawal has a track record of lobbying against industries in the district.
In one of his most recent campaigns against the Jindal Group, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had, in April, cancelled environmental clearance granted for a 4-million tonne per annum coal mine to JSPL on the basis of documental evidence submitted by the RTI activist.
Agrawal had claimed before the tribunal that the mandatory public hearing held to clear the project did not follow accepted procedure.
- Environmental activist shot and wounded in Chhattisgarh (thehindu.com)
- RTI activist Ramesh Agarwal shot at by unidentified men (ndtv.com)
- Below Poverty Line (BPL) millionaires in Chhattisgarh, India (kractivist.wordpress.com)