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Thread: Amit Jethwa: RTI Activist shot dead in Gujarat

  1. #11
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    re: Amit Jethwa: RTI Activist shot dead in Gujarat


    As reported at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on Jul 22, 2010

    Vital clues in whistleblower's murder


    AHMEDABAD: Two days after RTI activist Amit Jethwa was killed in Ahmedabad, police claim to have found vital clues in the murder case that lead directly to BJP MP Dinu Solanki's constituency Junagadh, Gujarat. The prime suspect meanwhile seems to have gone underground.

    A police team has left for Junagadh following what they claim is clinching evidence pointing to the MP's involvement. The activist's father on Wednesday said he had received threat calls in the past from the MP, after Amit Jethwa filed a PIL on Solanki's alleged links to illegal mining in the Gir national forest, which is the last remaining natural habitat for the Asiatic lion.

    Dinu Solanki is also an accused in an attack on former Congress MLA Dhirsing Bharad. Illegal mining worth Rs 50 cr allegedly took place annually within 5 kms of the periphery of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, allegedly under the direct guidance and patronage of Dinu Solanki.

    "I strongly suspect that Dinu Solanki is behind my son's murder. Because he has threatened me on telephone. He also threatened Amit many times. Amit was threatened in Kodinar and Khamba towns in front of large crowds, a thousand strong. But nobody dared to report the matter," said Bhiku Jethwa, Amit's father.



  2. #12
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    re: Amit Jethwa: RTI Activist shot dead in Gujarat


    As reported by Dilip Patel at mumbaimirror.com on July 22, 2010

    Slained RTI activist was looking for a break from campaigns


    In Ahmedabad Environmental activist Amit Jethava died sad. The slain crusader, who was shot point blank near the Gujarat High Court found himself alone in the fight for environment.

    “Despite my efforts to protect Gir lions from illegal miners, people remained insensitive, and did not come foward for the cause,” Jethava had expressed his anguish during a tete-a-tete with this reporter on July 12. “Since I have failed to evoke people’s response for protection of environment, I am planning to take a break for two months.”

    Jethava was aware of the fact that he was playing with fire, therefore, the wildlife activist had filed an affidavit on a threat to his life. “I know how risky it is for me and my family to wage a war against the mining mafia,” he had said, adding, “It pains me to see that the people are failing to acknowledge my efforts.”

    Known for calling a spade a spade, Jethava had more enemies than friends. During a public meeting in Khambha village, a few months ago, Jethava was publicly threatened. And it was for this reason that he had to live his native place and come to Ahmedabad.

    Also, Jethava lost his membership on the State Wildlife Advisory Board headed by the chief minister for his frankness in 2002.

    The former chief wildlife warden G A Patel spiked his chances of being appointed on the board on the pretext that he may even not be afraid of speaking up against the chief minister.

    In another incident, Jethava had filed a PIL challenging the appointment of J K Vyas to the post of environment director on the grounds that he was not eligible for the post. The case was settled in Jethava’s favour.

  3. #13
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    re: Amit Jethwa: RTI Activist shot dead in Gujarat


    As reported at dnaindia.com on 22 July, 2010

    Activists across India stunned by Amit Jethava’s murder


    The news of the murder of environment and RTI activist, Amit Jethava, by unknown assailants has stunned fellow activists across the country.

    Unanimously condemning the incident, they have demanded a thorough inquiry into the audacious murder of the activist in the heart of an urban centre like Ahmedabad.

    In his mid 30s, Jethava was gunned down by two unidentified men on a bike on Tuesday night. The assailants had used a country-made pistol. Jethava, a resident of Khamba in Junagadh, was the president of Gir Nature Youth Club. In addition to several prominent campaigns relating to conservation of Asiatic Lions in Gir Forests, Jethava was also actively utilising the RTI to expose the corruption in the system.

    His death is being seen by activists as an attempt to stifle the voice of activism trying to expose the rot in the system. "The state should take immediate action against the culprits to restore faith in law of the land," a statement released by Janpath, an umbrella organisation of various NGOs, stated. Janpath claimed that national activists like Arvind Kejriwal, Nikhil De, Aruna Roy and several others have expressed their concern over the murder. "They have offered to take up the cause of illegal mining raised by Jethava's organisation. We are willing to take forth the case in the court," Janpath said. "It is an appaling feature of a society that an activist working to expose the corruption in the system is not protected under the law," another campaigner said,

    "This murder is a clear indication that vested interests, including politicians, will stop at nothing in Gujarat. It is high time that civil society in the state comes out in large numbers and protests the rot that is overpowering the state," said a statement by Fr Cedric Prakash, director of NGO, Prashant.
    "The state government is talking about security and safety of people when RTI activist like Amit Jethava is killed in front of Gujarat high court! Government is not doing anything for the safety of people who risk their lives to bring awareness against illegal activities," said RTI activist Bharatsinh Zala. He said the whole state is affected by illegal mining.

    "Government gives lease to mafia. When the lease ends, the mafia don't renew it and continue mining on government land. Amit Jethava was fighting to prevent these mafia and he lost his life in this struggle," said Zala.

  4. #14

    re: Amit Jethwa: RTI Activist shot dead in Gujarat



    Dear friends,

    It is high time the Government withdraw the RTI act and save so many families the torment they are undergoing. A representation should be sent to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi regarding this. What is this country, where the people who try to save this country are being killed by its own coutrymen.
    "GHAR KO JALA DIYA GHAR KAE CHIRAG NAE"
    Let the coming generations suffer because of these corrupt and anti national people. Why we should put our families in trouble when the governemnt is not supporting us. What happened to the several cases of RTI activists murders.

    "JAI HIND"

  5. re: Amit Jethwa: RTI Activist shot dead in Gujarat


    I knew Amit from Nov 2009. Very brave, dynamic and straight forward committed mainly to environment protection and wild life for last 10 years. He was member of this portal also.

    [COLOR="rgb(160, 82, 45)"]HE TRIED TO SAVE LIONS OF GIR FOREST, AND LION WAS KILLED. [/COLOR]
    It takes each of us to make difference for all of us.

  6. re: Amit Jethwa: RTI Activist shot dead in Gujarat


    Whistling in the dark - Hindustan Times

    HINDUSTAN TIMES
    editorials

    Whistling in the dark
    Hindustan Times
    July 23, 2010First Published: 22:24 IST(23/7/2010)
    Last Updated: 22:28 IST(23/7/2010)

    Corruption, according to no less than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a speech last year, is tarnishing India's image, hurting its economic growth and squashing the government's efforts to build an equitable society. This ties in with the 'murder' of Gujarat's Right to Information (RTI) activist

    Amit Jethwa. Clearly, someone has an interest in throttling the voices of those who are brave enough to speak up against dishonesty at the highest level. Jethwa, according to reports, had filed several Right to Information (RTI) cases against the illegal mining lobby in the Gir lion sanctuary. This brought him into collision with his friend-turned-foe BJP MP, Dinu Solanki. Jethwa's father has accused Solanki of plotting his son's murder.
    That RTI activists in Gujarat and elsewhere in the country are feeling the heat is well-known. At an activists' meet in Ahmedabad in March, many talked about getting death threats from corrupt politicians and government officials. An incident like Jethwa's murder, however, is not new to India. Remember National Highway Authority of India's Satyendra Dubey and Indian Oil Corporation's Manjunath Shanmugham? Both were killed because they stood up to corrupt officials and contractors. In recent months, activists Satish Shetty and Datta Patil, who exposed many land scams and corrupt politicians and bureaucrats in Maharashtra, were also murdered. After the death of Dubey and Manjunath, there was much soul-searching about how to p rotect the whistleblowers. The Public Interest Disclosure (Protection of Informers) Bill, 2009, was drafted but it is not a law yet. As per the draft law, any person can make a complaint on corruption against any central government employee or institution to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). The CVC will have the power to investigate and provide security to the whistleblower. Information activists also feel that a similar kind of provision could be weaved into the existing RTI law. The other important exercise could be to appoint an effective Lokayukta. Gujarat, like many other states, doesn't have one.

    As India develops and people become more aware of their rights, there's bound to be a clash of interests. The people will use laws like the RTI to demand what's due to them and put pressure on the authorities to deliver. But the meaning of such positive developments will be lost if they are constantly exposed to the dangers of clashing with the corrupt.
    It takes each of us to make difference for all of us.

  7. #17
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    re: Amit Jethwa: RTI Activist shot dead in Gujarat


    As reported in indianexpress.com on 27July 2010:
    Jethava murder:

    Jethava murder: ‘Missing’ MP says not guilty in ads

    “Missing” BJP MP from Junagadh, Dinu Solanki, put out an advertisement in three Gujarati dailies on Monday, claiming he had no enmity with Amit Jethava, the RTI activist who was shot dead near the Gujarat High Court a few days ago.

    Since Jethava’s killing, the MP has not been seen in public and the Junagadh police, which provide him security, said they last saw him on July 18. The Ahmedabad police probing Jethava’s murder said they have got “vital clues”.

    Dinu Solanki is said to be a close aide of Amit Shah, the former home minister now in judicial custody.

    Junagadah SP incharge Maninder Pawar said the MP was last seen on July 18 at a Garib Kalyan Mela function. “We have no idea where he is now,” said Pawar. Solanki did not attend the Parliament session on Monday in Delhi either.

    In Ahmedabad, the police have traced the vehicle used by the two assailants who shot Jethava. “One of them appears to be a history-sheeter. We have also sought details about complaints registered against and by Jethava in Amreli and Junagadh districts,” Ahmedabad police said.

    Police officers investigating the case said, “We cannot give details of the seized vehicle or of the suspect. But we have got leads.”

    They said the killing seemed well-coordinated at three levels. “It appears that a middleman might have given supari (a contract to kill) to the two persons who shot Jethava,” they said.

    DCP Zone-I, Brijesh Kumar Jha, refused to elaborate. “The police are talking to Jethava’s friends and relatives who spoke to him a few hours before the incident took place.”

    What the ad says
    MP Shri Dinubhai Solanki’s Public Clarification I had no enmity with Amit Jethava. The PIL filed in High Court on illegal mines has no impact on the ones working in my name spread over two-and-a-half acres because following the Supreme Court order, these mines have been closed since 2005. This PIL does not help or affect me adversely in any way.

    It is possible the sad incident could have been a result of to the impact of Amit Jethava’s PIL on other legal and illegal mine operators.

    According to my information, Amitbhai frequently filed public interest litigations (PILs) in the Gujarat High Court, which affected different subjects, due to which this incident (Jethava’s murder) could have taken place.

    I have learnt through newspapers that Amit Jethava had confided to his lawyer friend that Dinubhai would be upset with his petition, but they perhaps do not know that the lease of the mines mentioned in the PIL have expired.
    Twitter: @cjkarira

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    re: Amit Jethwa: RTI Activist shot dead in Gujarat


    As reported by Shubhlakshmi Shukla and Hiral Dave in expressindia.com on 29 July 2010:
    Murdered RTI activist had taken on Gir mining mafia - Express India

    Murdered RTI activist had taken on Gir mining mafia

    KODINAR, AHMEDABAD On July 21, barely a fortnight after he filed a PIL in the Gujarat High Court seeking an end to illegal limestone mining along the Gir wildlife sanctuary, 36-year-old activist Amit Jethava was killed. He was shot from point blank range on a busy highway in Ahmedabad, minutes after he came out of his lawyer’s office near the very court where he filed PILs year after year.

    Gujarat has the country’s fourth largest limestone deposits, some 12,000 million metric tonnes spread over Kutch, Junagadh, Amreli, Banaskantha and Sabarkantha. Official estimates peg the state’s current mining market to be worth well over Rs 500 crore a year but unofficial projections say it is much more.

    A complex nexus of politicians, influential businessmen, bureaucrats and goons controls the illegal slice of the mining business, overshadowing its legally allowed chunk. Some of Jethava’s efforts using the RTI Act and PILs had changed things and sent politicians, the government and its babus scampering for cover.

    Hours after his motorcycle-borne assassins left him bleeding to death by the roadside, fingers were being pointed at Dinesh Solanki, BJP’s powerful MP in Junagadh. Solanki, who is close to former Home Minister Amit Shah and Finance Minister Vajubhai Vala, holds considerable sway over the local mining business.

    But Solanki has not been seen after Jethava’s killing, not even by the police personnel guarding him. Junagadh’s SP Maninder Pawar admitted he had no idea where Solanki was.

    The MP, however, put out an advertisement in local newspapers on Monday, proclaiming his innocence, even suggesting that someone else hit by one of Jethava’s many PILs may have got him killed. Solanki’s advertisement also maintained that Jethava’s latest PIL could not have impacted “ mines working in my name” since those shut down after a Supreme Court order.

    Jethava was not known to get fazed by circumstances. Operating mostly from his village Khambha, he soon managed to become a member of the state wildlife advisory board, even logged his name in the state as well as national environment protection circuit.

    From his one-room office in Khambha, he used the RTI Act to source information from all over, and then followed it up in courts with his many PILs. It was one of his PILs that forced the state government to agree in court to appoint a Lokayukta and RTI information officers.

    His pursuit of almost every development in the Gir wildlife sanctuary areas often kept the state forest brass on the tenterhooks, before he shifted base to Ahmedabad a couple of years ago to begin focussing more on the RTI route.

    Senior forest officials recall the first line of a government circular some five years ago, stating: “ Amit Jethava na akshepo upar dhyan levo nahi (Do not take any complaints from Jethava seriously).”

    “It is not usual for a state government to issue an official circular asking not to take an individual’s complaints seriously, ordering officers to use their discretion,” an official said.

    His father Bhikhabhai runs a cobbler’s shop in his village. “My boy had courage. He never thought twice before getting to battle Solanki. He ignored the many threats that he kept getting from Solanki,” he alleged.

    Jethava’s latest PIL related to a mining lease that Solanki reportedly got sanctioned by the Junagadh collectorate in Pichvi village, which, according to forest department records, is one of the six villages in Kodinar that falls within the prohibited five-kilometre radius surrounding the ecologically sensitive Gir sanctuary.

    The lease (survey numbers 131 and 131/1) was extended for another 10 years in 2006. In 2007, state officials, under pressure from Jethava, cancelled Solanki’s lease along with 34 other illegal leases in the Kodinar-Jamvada belt.

    But Jethava, in his PIL, claimed that the cancellation was only on paper. He adduced government records, including evidence of an alleged illegal mining racket unearthed by the state geology and mines department official, Y B Raval, on January 24 to point to Solanki’s role.

    The MP had obtained the electricity connection to the mining sites in his nephew’s name. Jethava produced copies of the electricity bills to contend that illegal mining was still going on. On July 9, the High Court issued notices to all the respondents, and posted the hearing for August.

    Forest officials and political circles in Junagadh and Amreli recall how close Jethava and Solanki once were. “When Jethava began his wildlife activism, Solanki (who was then an MLA) allowed him to use his MLA quarters in Gandhinagar during his visits,” said a forest officer.

    But all that changed in 2007, when Jethava contested the Assembly polls against Solanki.

    Incidentally, it was Solanki who urged Jethava to cash in on his increasing popularity and contest the elections for the Khambha-Kodinar Assembly seat. Solanki wanted Jethava to cut into the vote share of Dhirsinh Barad, who was touted to be the Congress candidate and who wielded significant clout in Khambha.

    But the Congress fielded Laxman Parmar instead of Barad. Solanki then asked Jethava to withdraw his nomination. But Jethava refused, deciding to remain in the fray. Solanki won the seat for the fourth time. When he vacated the seat to become MP in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Barad won the Kodinar seat. Jethava got close to Barad, as they then had a common foe in Solanki.

    Over the last couple of years, Jethava often took on Solanki. The Rajmoti Charitable Trust run by the MP had to give up possession of its newly-built community hall after Jethava filed a petition in court pointing out that it was built using Central and state government grants and was, therefore, public property.

    Jethava then used the RTI route to prove that all the cellphone towers installed in Kodinar, in which Solanki’s nephew, Pratap Solanki, had a business interest, were illegal. He also tried to prove that although a criminal case of rioting and assault was pending against Solanki (who was accused of assaulting Barad and his kin), the MP was being allowed to go to the US.
    Twitter: @cjkarira

  9. #19

    Question Reasons for Ami Jethwa's Murder, mystery behind


    July 31 at 2:00pm The Dinesh Solanki-Amit Jethava story is about the mentor and the student turning on each other in the wake of an inevitable clash of ambitions. The lucrative limestone-mining business of Gujarat — conservatively estimated at Rs 500 crore annually — provides the backdrop for not just Jethava's murder but a general sordid politician-bureaucrat-businessman nexus in the state.
    Jethava hailed from Khambha town, part of the command area of Solanki's transportation and limestone mining business. When his childhood friend Boga Dhakan started the Gir Nature Youth Club, the first local environment group in the area, Jethava, a compounder suspended from the local Community Health Centre, was quick to sign up. That was just under five years ago.The club soon found donors among industrialists and politicians in the area, and Jethava became close to Solanki, then a BJP MLA.
    The relationship broke during the 2007 Assembly election. Jethava contested against Solanki at the Khambha-Kodinar seat, which that latter had already won thrice. As Solanki romped home for the fourth time, the enmity between the men only deepened.
    In 2009, Solanki became an MP, and the Congress's Dhirsinh Barad won the Assembly seat. Suddenly, Jethava had an ally — and Barad a friend against the common enemy, Solanki. Ever since the Assembly election battle, Jethava had been doing his best to disrupt Solanki's businesses, unleashing against the politician a volley of petitions and RTI applications. Now, he redoubled his efforts.
    Complaints against Solanki
    According to officials at the Khambha police station, Jethava had filed at least 21 complaints with them — five of which were against Solanki. All were about alleged violations of environment laws in the Gir Sanctuary.
    Jethava successfully petitioned the court that a community hall being built by Solanki's Rajmoti Charitable Trust was using Central and state government grants and was, hence, public property.
    Jethava was successful in digging out information through the RTI Act that proved that mobile phone towers in Kodinar — a business in which Solanki's nephew Shiva had an interest — had been erected illegally.
    He used the RTI Act to show that even though a criminal case of rioting and assault was pending against Solanki, the MP was being allowed to fly to the US.
    Another complaint related to a mining lease given to Solanki by the Junagadh Collectorate in Pichvi village. According to the Forest Department, Pichvi is one of six villages in Kodinar that fall within the prohibited 5-km radius of the Gir Sanctuary.
    In a complaint filed on August 25, 2008, Jethava expressed fears that Solanki might bring try to bring false charges against him.
    Two months ago, Jethava filed an RTI application with the Gujarat Forest Department, seeking details of illegal mining on the periphery of the Gir Sanctuary. This month, he filed a public interest suit against illegal mining in the Gujarat High Court, which declared Solanki a respondent in the case.
    He also filed affidavits with the Supreme Court-constituted Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on illegal mining around the Gir National Park and Sanctuary. The matter is still pending with the CEC.
    The mining trail
    The truth about Jethava's murder lies shrouded in the complex and murky workings of Gujarat's mining nexus. The state in which India's fourth largest limestone deposits are located, had done little to curb illegal mining until 2002 — the year in which the Forest Department was given powers to restrict mining within the Sanctuary area, and up to a radius of 5 km around its perimeter. "Before 2002, mining activity continued around the forest area as there was no law to prevent it," said a senior Forest Department official.
    The deposits in the Porbander, Kutch and Junagadh districts — and the smaller ones in Rajkot, Banaskantha and Sabarkantha — feed huge cement plants with annual production capacities of millions of tonnes. Among the big business houses that tap into the limestone are Ambuja Cements, Siddhi Cement and Hathi Cements in Veraval in Porbander district, and Sanghi Cement, J P Cements and Sparta Cement in Kutch. A cement manufacturing plant is reported to be in the pipeline in Kutch district. Some of the country's biggest soda-ash manufacturing units too are located in the limestone-producing areas of Gujarat.
    The nature of the limestone quarrying business — windfall returns on minimal investment — attracted huge interest, and also spawned massive irregularities.
    Jethava's PIL against illegal mining in the Supreme Court, and those in the Gujarat High Court against Director of Environment J K Vyas's promotion, have the potential to upset the workings of the mining mafia and the vested interests in the cement and soda ash industries.
    According to official sources, 20 million to 22 million tonnes of limestone worth over Rs 500 crore is mined across the state annually, leading to the manufacture of nearly 15 million tonnes of cement. However, the state government has been getting royalty in the range of only about Rs 22 crore every year, with allegations that the bulk of it is siphoned off by the illegal mining mafia.
    The other players
    In the last five months, the state Mining and Geology department has cracked down on many Porbander-based mining companies that have allegedly underreported the quantity of limestone being quarried by them. The state government has even initiated a move to attach their landed properties.
    These companies include those allegedly owned by former BJP minister Babu Bokhiria and Bima Odedara, the brother of BJP MLA Karsan Dula.
    According to officials, a total of 135 companies are engaged in limestone mining in Porbander district, which has the largest of the limestone mines in the state. Sources in the Geology Commissionerate alleged that nearly 80 per cent these companies are controlled by Babu Bokhiria.
    Bokhiria was accused of the murder of Congress activist and miner Molu Modhwadia in October 2005.
    Molu's wife Laki had been demanding that an FIR be lodged against Bokhiria on the basis of a note recovered from Molu's wallet after his death. Molu had expressed the fear that Bokhiria was conspiring to eliminate him, and should be held responsible in case he (Molu) was killed.
    While a forensic examination of the letter established the handwriting to be Molu's, the police have neither made Bokhiria an accused nor questioned him in the case. Bokhiria later challenged in the High Court a fast track court's judgment ordering his interrogation. After the High Court upheld the fast track court's order in 2008, Bokhiria challenged the matter in the Supreme Court, where it is now pending.
    Bokhiria had earlier been arrested in an illegal mining case involving the non-payment of royalty of nearly Rs 54 crore in October 2007. The case was filed by Saurashtra Chemicals in 2006 (when Bokhiria was Porbander MLA) against Bokhiria, Bhima Odedara, his son Laxman and former Congress MP Bharat Odedara, who is now in the BJP. Bokhiria was released in March 2008, after he had spent five months in jail.
    Another major defaulter, Bima Dula Odedara, is the brother of Karsan Dula, BJP MLA from Kotiyana. Karsan who has 36 criminal cases against him, happens to be Bokhiria's brother-in-law.
    While five defaulters, whose penalty amount ranged between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 5 lakh, paid the penalties, the rest approached the Union Mining Ministry which is yet to decide on their appeal.

  10. #20
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    Re: Amit Jethwa: RTI Activist shot dead in Gujarat


    As reported by Charul Shah in dnaindia.com on 09 August 2010:
    Ahmedabad police close to unravelling Amit Jethwa

    Ahmedabad police close to unravelling Amit Jethwa�s murder mystery

    After the furore over RTI activist Amit Jethwa's murder, it seems the city police have finally identified the persons behind the crime. However, for fear that the killers may go into hiding, the police are not revealing the names of the killers yet.

    "Jethwa's murder was a contract killing and the one who killed him and escaped from the spot have been identified. We are in the middle of investigations to find out the people who gave the contract," a cop told DNA.

    The city police have not revealed the names of the accused but have gathered substantial evidence against the killers. "The police have now zeroed in on the killers, through the evidence gathered so far," a source testified to DNA.

    Cops in the know, on the condition of anonymity, told DNA that the assailants have been identified as contract killers. The cops have gathered evidences of the financial transactions through which the killers were paid to kill Jethwa.

    Officials further said that the killers are absconding and the cops fear that the people behind the attack might get the killers eliminated. The officials hence, did not divulge the names of the killers, for fear that they may go into hiding.

    Police sources said that the killers seem to have followed the same modus operandi that has been observed in several similar crimes. In Jethwa's case, the killers came on a motorbike at night and shot him from very close, giving him very less time to react.

    However, Jethwa managed to hold on to the killers' bike, due to which the assailants had to struggle to escape. Police officials claim that the arrest of the assailants may help detect several other murder cases where the victims were killed in a similar manner.

    Jethwa was killed in firing by two people who came on a motorbike on July 20. The murder happened in the evening between 8:30 and 8:45 in front of the Gujarat high court. His family, in their statement to the police, has alleged that he was killed by the BJP leaders involved in illegal mining near Porbandar.
    Twitter: @cjkarira

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