On 13 June 2015, Guru Prasad Shukla, a Right to Information (RTI) Activist, was beaten to death in Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh. The 50 year old worked for the Aam Aadmi Party and had spent over 8 years as an RTI activist during which time he had submitted over 300 applications in order to expose government corruption. In 2015 he was awarded the Vishnu Dutt Mishra RTI Ratna Prize for this work. He is survived by his two wives, son and daughter.
Shukla’s most recent RTI activism concerned his home village Bahraich. In 2013 he attempted to expose the misappropriation of large sums from various funds that were intended for village development, these included new facilities for the local school and social housing. This embezzlement continued over 2014 and 2015 while Shukla continued to file complaints. Finally, with his arrest for corruption imminent, the leader of the village, Mr. Trilokinath entered Shukla’s home with his brother and son late on the night of the 12th.
The three beat him viciously with lathis (bamboo clubs with iron tips) before stabbing him to death. His family attempted to intervene and were also attacked and beaten by the three men. Shukla was taken, unconscious, with multiple broken bones and a fractured skull to the local hospital where he died the next day. The three attackers were all arrested shortly afterwards.
The Hindustan Times reported that Shukla was the 39th to be murdered for RTI activism since the law was introduced in 2005, another 275 people have been assaulted. The transparency scheme has been used widely to expose government corruption and the misappropriation of funds. However it does not provide anonymity to the activists who submit requests which leaves them open to reprisals.