Skip to main content

Reminiscing RTI activist whose murder signalled new authoritarian wave in Odisha

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* 
Reminiscing the outrageous murder of Right to Information (RTI) activist Ranjan Kumar Das a year ago without doubt signaled new wave of authoritarian onslaught on democratic movements in Odisha. It suggested how the Odisha government failed to protect the lives of RTI activists. Ranjan was murdered near his village Beruan in the Kendrapara district of Odisha on 31st January 2020. Indeed, like his friends, family, fellow RTI activists and acquittances, I am yet to recover from this shocking news.
In his murder, Kendrapara and Odisha lost a committed activist, and his parents lost their only son. Ranjan’s wife lost her young husband and his four years old son lost his father. It is going to be a year since his murder, but no one is arrested. His killers are still roaming free. Ranjan was killed for his unflagging passion for building a just society based on transparency, accountability and rule of law.
Over the last two decades, I knew Ranjan as my friend, batchmate and hostel mate during our days in the Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha from 1999 to 2001. He was with the Department of History and I was in the Department of Political Science but there was an organic bond and mutual love for each other. We belong to the same district and Ranjan was the leading organiser and glue for all Kendrapara Cultural Meets in the university.
Ranjan displayed his great strength as an organiser. He was a committed friend and fun-loving student with clear heart. He was always there to support friends in crisis. His romantic poems in hostel magazine was very popular among his classmates and batchmates.
In Ranjan’s eyes, my idiosyncrasies were many, but it did not create any differences in our friendship. He knew how to overcome all ideological and other differences with a wild smile. After completing our post-graduation, we moved in different directions in life in search of livelihoods. Ranjan’s transparent character dragged him to the RTI movement in the state.
It is not the degrees and qualifications that decides the destinations of life that Ranjan wanted to live and lead by example. Most of our batchmates went on to build their careers after finishing their courses but Ranjan returned to his village to uphold the idealisms of his student life. He has exposed corrupt practices and irregularities of local politicians and government officials with the help of the RTI.
He filed many RTI applications seeking details of different government schemes, funding and its utilisation. He knew that his life is under threat due to his activism, but he was determined to sacrifice his own life for the cause of people and their democratic right to know.
His premonition came true and he was killed by the local ruling elites whose interests were under threat due to Ranjan’s committed activism. Ranjan did not know how to surrender before the power and fear death. In a world of superficial friendships, Ranjan was always straight. His humous qualities helped him to tell the bitter truth in the face of people without hurting them.
But the shameless cowards killed Ranjan in the darkness of night while he was returning home to be with his family. As Ranjan permanently slept in his grave with pride and dignity, his killers are hiding behind the power of the government and living the life of cowardice.
Ranjan survives within hearts and minds of his friends and family as a caring son and a loving friend. His smiles, sharply witty talks and committed activism can never be killed by all powerful ruling elites of the state. Ranjan has raised his voice against all illegal activities in his area to ensure transparency in local development.
Ranjan’s character was neither formed in the classrooms nor within the counterfeit cultural narratives in the society. For him, character was his unfettered commitment for his family, friends, state and society. His character was formed by intrinsic understanding of social and political transformation in the society with the help of the RTI Act. He pursued it in letter and spirit to uplift his village, district and the state with the support of RTI led good governance and sustainable development of people and their livelihoods.
The struggle for further deepening of the RTI Act will be a befitting reply to the killers of Ranjan. The legacies of fun, friendship, family and sacrifice define Ranjan who survives in our hearts and minds as a liberated RTI activist of Odisha. History documents the names of martyrs of social and political movements and Ranjan knew it well as a student of history.
In the contemporary history of people’s movements in Odisha, Ranjan’s life will be celebrated as a luminous star guiding the Right to Information movement in the state. His sacrifice will be an inspiration for many in building a better society based on transparency, fairness, justice and free from exploitation.
Ranjan will be mourned by all his friends and family beyond the RTI movement in the state. But his loss is unbearable for his old parents, wife and son. To all of them, I mourn and extend my deepest love, thoughts and solidarity with the struggle for justice.
---  
*University of Glasgow, UK

Comments

TRENDING

देशव्यापी ग्रामीण भारत बंध में उतरे मध्य प्रदेश के आदिवासी, किया केंद्र सरकार का विरोध

- हरसिंग जमरे, भिखला सोलंकी, रतन अलावे*  15 और 16 फरवरी को निमाड के बड़वानी, खरगोन और बुरहानपुर में जागृत आदिवासी दलित संगठन के नेतृत्व में आदिवासी महिला-पुरुषों ग्रामीण भारत बंद में रैली एवं विरोध प्रदर्शन किया । प्रधान मंत्री द्वारा 2014 में फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने का वादा किया गया था, 2016 में किसानों की आय दुगना करने का वादा किया गया था । आज, फसलों का दाम नहीं बढ़ रहा है, लेकिन खेती में खर्च बढ़ता जा रहा है! खाद, बीज और दवाइयों का दाम, तीन-चार गुना बढ़ चुका है! किसानों को लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने के बजाए, खेती को कंपनियों के हवाले करने के लिए 3 काले कृषि कानून लाए गए । 3 काले कानून वापस लेते समय प्रधान मंत्री ने फिर वादा किया था कि फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव की कानूनी गारंटी के लिए कानून बनाएँगे, लेकिन वो भी झूठ निकला! आज जब देश के किसान दिल्ली में आपको अपना वादा याद दिलाने आए है, तब आप उनका रास्ता रोक रहें है, उनके साथ मारपीट कर उन पर आँसू गैस फेंक रहें हैं, उन पर छर्रों से फायरिंग कर रहें है! देश को खिलाने वाला किसान खुद भूखा रहे, क्या यही विकास है?

Only 15% businesses provide employees real-time sustainability dashboards: Study

Kyndryl in collaboration with Microsoft has released the findings of The Global Sustainability Barometer study. The study, conducted by Ecosystm, finds that while 85% of organizations place a high strategic level of importance on achieving their sustainability goals, only 16% have integrated sustainability into their strategies and data. A Kyndryl note: *** Kyndryl (NYSE: KD), the world’s largest IT infrastructure services provider, in collaboration with Microsoft , today released the findings of The Global Sustainability Barometer study. The study, conducted by Ecosystm , finds that while 85% of organizations place a high strategic level of importance on achieving their sustainability goals, only 16% have integrated sustainability into their strategies and data.

Tamil Nadu brahmins are at cross roads, their future scenario remains uncertain

By NS Venkataraman*  For over 70 years now, brahmin community in Tamil Nadu have been abused, insulted and even physically attacked on some occasions by those who claimed that they were part of the so called dravidian movement. However, brahmin community silently and helplessly ducked under pressure and showed no signs of resistance or fight back.

How the slogan Jai Bhim gained momentum as movement of popularity and revolution

By Dr Kapilendra Das*  India is an incomprehensible plural country loaded with diversities of religions, castes, cultures, languages, dialects, tribes, societies, costumes, etc. The Indians have good manners/etiquette (decent social conduct, gesture, courtesy, politeness) that build healthy relationships and take them ahead to life. In many parts of India, in many situations, and on formal occasions, it is common for people of India to express and exchange respect, greetings, and salutation for which we people usually use words and phrases like- Namaskar, Namaste, Pranam, Ram Ram, Jai Ram ji, Jai Sriram, Good morning, shubha sakal, Radhe Radhe, Jai Bajarangabali, Jai Gopal, Jai Jai, Supravat, Good night, Shuvaratri, Jai Bhole, Salaam walekam, Walekam salaam, Radhaswami, Namo Buddhaya, Jai Bhim, Hello, and so on.

नफरती बातें: मुसलमानों में असुरक्षा का भाव बढ़ रहा है, वे अपने मोहल्लों में सिमट रहे हैं

- राम पुनियानी*  भारत पर पिछले 10 सालों से हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी भारतीय जनता पार्टी (भाजपा) राज कर रही है. भाजपा आरएसएस परिवार की सदस्य है और आरएसएस का लक्ष्य है हिन्दू राष्ट्र का निर्माण. आरएसएस से जुड़ी सैंकड़ों संस्थाएँ हैं. उसके लाखों, बल्कि शायद, करोड़ों स्वयंसेवक हैं. इसके अलावा कई हजार वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ता हैं जिन्हें प्रचारक कहा जाता है. भाजपा के सत्ता में आने के बाद से आरएसएस दुगनी गति से हिन्दू राष्ट्र के निर्माण के अपने एजेण्डे को पूरा करने में जुट गया है. यदि भाजपा को चुनावों में लगातार सफलता हासिल हो रही है तो उसका कारण है देश में साम्प्रदायिकता और साम्प्रदायिक मुद्दों का बढ़ता बोलबाला. इनमें से कुछ हैं राम मंदिर, गौमांस और गोवध एवं लव जिहाद. 

Birth of New Communist Party ushers in new epoch in Canada's Left history

By Harsh Thakor  On January 31, 2024, history was made with the formation of the (New) Communist Party of Canada (the (N)CPC), the successful completion of its Founding Congress, and the public release of its Political Program. A most sporadic development in turning course of Communist movement locally, and worldwide. It also pits a challenge to dogmatism or mechanical approach and stagnation. taps the revolutionary creativity of the masses and is major re-orientation towards shaping revolutionary class struggles and  the massline.

Ethiopian ruling classes, political masters in West have their hands soaked in blood

By Harsh Thakor  Over two hundred were killed in recent weeks in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Amhara region. After peace-talks between the Oromo Liberation Army and the Ethiopian government did not materialise tensions are escalating in the Oromia region. Earlier, on November 22, least 25 civilians were massacred in a government aerial drone strike, in Chawaka districts of the Buno Bedelle zone. This incident took place only two days after a fierce battle arose between the OLA and governmental troops in the Sulula Fincha district of the Horro Guduru Wollega zone.

Landslide early warning system: Odisha Govt, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham collaborate

By Divya Saini  In a strategic move to mitigate the impact of landslides during storms, the Odisha government in collaboration with Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham is gearing up to establish a user-friendly Landslide Early Warning System (EWS) in Gajapati district. This initiative aims to provide advanced information, especially regarding landslides caused by disturbances in the natural stability of a slope.

Violent incidents in Haldwani: CPDRS on dubious role of Uttarakhand government

By DN Rath  Center for Democratic Rights and Secularism (CPDRS) unequivocally condemns the dubious role of Uttarakhand Government and its administration in the incidents that happened in Haldwani of Nanital district of the state.

A third view of Islamic paradox: Can Muslim unity defeat Zionist evil regime’s injustice?

By Chandra Vikash*  Could India, as a mirror to the ethno-federal One State solution, play a key role in resolving the Palestinian genocide crisis, that has emerged in the global consciousness as a focal point for injustice of centuries-old settler-colonialism project that continues to spread its hydra-headed tentacles through globalisation of this Old World Order?