On Tuesday 19 March 2018, human rights defender Poipynhun Majaw was found dead in the north-east Indian state of Meghalaya.
On Tuesday, the HRD’s body was found with signs of injuries to the head. 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.
Pipynhun Majaw was the president of Jaintia Youth Federation and was actively committed to defending the rights of his community. It is suspected that Majaw was killed because of his investigation into corrupt dealings between the heads of the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) and cement companies. The companies are allegedly mining limestone without permission while the JHADC turns a blind eye to this illegal activity.
A year earlier, using the RTI (right to information legislation) , Mahaw had exposed an earlier 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.
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.