AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal ‘s obituary references to four RTI activists at a large public gathering in Ahmedabad on Saturday left his supporters red-faced as three of them are alive.
He said that the four were killed for asking awkward questions and hailed them as martyrs for the cause of society. Kejriwal got the first victim’s name right — Amit Jethava, who was killed allegedly by the mining mafia in front of the Gujarat high court on July 20, 2010.
The other three — Bhagu Dewani (Porbandar), Minakshi Goswami (South Gujarat) and M Bhambhani (Diu) — in fact survived attacks provoked by their activism.
“First of all I want to pay homage to those who have sacrificed their lives in the last 10 years while fighting against corruption in Gujarat,” Kejriwal said, adding he was paying homage to all of them “from the bottom of my heart”.
However, Dewani, a 64-year-old lawyer, was later quoted as saying, “I was attacked three years back, but right now my health is quite good… and my fight against corruption is on,” He said he was likely to join AAP very soon. “Kejriwal can provide good leadership to RTI activists like us.”
Dewani was pulled out of his car in Porbandar and stabbed in his stomach on July 25, 2011, but he survived. He alleged that Gujarat minister Babu Bokhiria was behind the attack and has also filed a petition in the HC accusing Bokhiria of running illegal mines in Porbandar.
Forty two-year-old Bhambhani said, “I am fortunate to be alive after an attack on August 24, 2011. I was attacked with swords and pipes followed by a failed acid attack, after I had filed an RTI application regarding construction of a restaurant and bogus license issued by RTO to bike-vendors.” Bhambhania also blamed local politicians and government officers for the attack.
Goswami was attacked on September 21, 2011 following her RTI plea seeking details of environment clearances obtained by a private firm.
When asked for a comment, AAP’s Gujarat convener Sukhdev Patel said, “When he (Kejriwal) mentioned the names, I was not there, but I will certainly check this out.”