Suresh Oraon

Once a crusader, always a crusader. That would sum up who Suresh Oraon was.

The 27-year-old Central Coalfields (CCL) employee, who had invoked the RTI Act in his fight against displacement in the past, was shot five times during a religious meeting on the morning of 7 June, 2018 .

While Chatra police have formed two special teams to investigate the murder, whose motive is yet unclear, people who knew the young man closely said he never gave up his “war on injustice” and that might have earned him bullets.

Social activist and friend Gopinath Ghosh said anti-displacement agitations topped Oraon’s agenda. Three years ago, Oraon, then a fully-fledged RTI crusader, was offered the job of a surveyor by CCL in lieu of his land. “Even while he was working at CCL, he was fighting for other land losers, many of whom were not given jobs by the coal PSU. Two months ago, he had staged a demonstration for local unemployed youths whose land had been acquired for mining,” Ghosh recalled.

The social activist didn’t mince words to say that Oraon might have been killed by the PSU or the mining mafia. “After all, my friend was a public figure who fought and won many battles against CCL (the Damodar pollution case) and several other private companies involved in mining operations. If he had won many friends, he had made enemies too. We want a judicial inquiry into his murder,” Ghosh added.

Nazir Hussain, another associate of the deceased, said during anti-displacement agitations three years ago, Oraon had filed several RTI pleas against CCL and the local administration.

A policeman in Chatra said the way five rounds were fired from close range indicated that whoever ordered Oraon’s killing wanted to eliminate all chances of survival. “Also, he was murdered in a public place, where tribals people meet every week. That takes daring,” the cop added.

Source: The Telegraph

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Date of Killing:07/06/2018

Previous Threats:Yes

Type of Work:Social leader

Organisation:‘Gramin Sangharsh Samiti’ (GSS.) Also was an independent RTI (Right to Information) applicant

Sector or Type of Rights the HRD Worked On:Civil and Political Rights, ESC Rights

Sector Detail:Abuse of power/corruption, Extractive industries/Mega projects, Impunity/Justice

More information:Front Line Defenders

1This database records an individual's chosen gender identity. If they do not self-identify as male or female they can use the option of recording other/neither or use the term NBGI (non binary gender identity).