On 1 February, 2020, anti-corruption activist Ranjan Kumar Das was found dead in unexplained circumstances in Beruan village, India. His body was found in a ditch by the side of the road along with his motorbike. He had multiple injuries to the face. Police have opened a murder investigation and suspect that several people were involved in his death.
According to local sources Ranjan Kumar Das had received regular death threats for seeking information about the numerous brick kilns that had sprung up illegally in the region.
Ranjan Kumar Das was a Right to Information (RTI) activist based in Odisha, India. He was the Kendrapara district unit convener of Odisha Jana Suchana Adhikar Abhijan (OSAA) which is a state level platform of HRDs. He had been associated with OSAA since 2012 and was known for filing multiple RTI applications in connection with financial irregularities in Kendrapara district.
An RTI inquiry filed by Ranjan Kumar Das in 2018 had exposed a breach of environmental protection legislation by Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) in building a tourist resort in Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park’s core area, where no such construction is allowed. In 2019, he had exposed the alleged misappropriation of funds allotted under the Integrated Coastal Zone Management scheme (ICZM) to an NGO in the district in connivance with officials of Bhitarkanika National Park for planting mangrove trees in the forest, which was never done.
Recently, he had lodged a case alleging encroachment on 1,100 acres of government land by a resident of Mahakalpada for shrimp farming. He also exposed irregularities in a recent mini-stadium project which was to be built using manual labour under the NREGA scheme. Instead of following those guidelines the contractor used JCB machines to do the work.
Ranjan documented irregularities and exposed corrupt practices which resulted in payments to contractors being withheld. Ranjan used to file petitions before the Vigilance department and the Lokayukta urging them to conduct an inquiry into corruption in the district.