60-year-old RTI Activist Bhupendra Vira was shot dead at point-blank range at his residence by an unidentified assailant on Sunday. Vira had been fighting against land mafia, unauthorised structures in and around Kalina.
Vira was at his subarbun house in Santa Cruz when an assailant entered his house late at night and shot him dead. “The assailant entered Vira’s residence around 9 PM yesterday, put a gun to his temple and fired. The activist died on the spot,” a police officer attached with Vakola police station said.
Vira’s wife, who was in the kitchen, didn’t hear the shot and was told by a neighbour passing by that there was blood in the bedroom. “When she checked she found her husband in a pool of blood,” said Virendra Mishra, zonal deputy commissioner of police.
“A case of murder has been registered against an unidentified person and a police team has been formed to nab the accused. We are also questioning a few people in connection with the case,” the officer said.
According to social activist Anjali Damania, Vira was targeted for taking on land mafia and demanded that the perpertrators be arrested soon. While another senior police officer said that the motive behind the murder was not clear yet.
Describing him as committed social worker, Damania said, “Vira along with other members of the ALM were fighting against encroachments, illegal structures and land mafia in and around Kalina by filing RTIs. He had written several letters to authorities including, Lokayukta, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and police, seeking action against illegal structures.”
Sources report that his family had recevied multiple death threats and had registered several non cognizable complaints with the Vakola police.
Condemning the brutal murder of the “whistle-blower”, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Satish Jain said, “Vira very bravely took on the land mafia in Kalina which was eyeing several properties in that area, including Bhupendra’s shop.
“The same mafia, led by an ex-Congress corporator, had stabbed Vira’s son four years ago, when he decided to take them head on,” he alleged.
Vira turned into an RTI activist in 2010. Prior to that he ran a shop and was a partner in a steel company owned by his family. The RTI activist is survived by a daughter and two sons. His body was sent to J J Hospital for post-mortem.