BANGALORE: Activists of the National Alliance of People’s Movement and members from several civil society organisations in the State came together to protest the laxity of the authorities with regard to the murder of NAPM convener A.T. Babu near Ramanagara on Monday.
More than a hundred protesters, led by Medha Patkar, participated in the dharna at Mahatma Gandhi statue and presented a memorandum to the Chief Minister in the afternoon. Protesters held placards displaying their angst at the murder and accused the Government of supporting the liquor lobby. They also called for a CBI probe into the murder.Ms. Patkar appealed to the Government to withdraw its decision to issue permits for opening 1,000 more liquor shops and 500 bar and restaurants.
Calling it a conspiracy by the politically-backed liquor lobby, Ms. Patkar said the State was infested with vested interests. Earlier, Ms. Patkar and several other activists visited Babu’s house in Prakash Nagar and spoke to his family. Sister Celia, who was one of the eye-witnesses to the murder, spoke about the horror of it all and the extraordinary courage displayed by Babu. A visibly shaken Ms. Celia said that it was heart wrenching to hear his daughter say that she did not want any compensation, but only wished the Government would shut down the liquor shops that her father died fighting for.
Activists expressed anger at the indifference of the Government to the issue. “The Chief Minister told us that he was not aware of this particular case. This is shocking, considering that a few MLAs had attended the funeral and promised all support from the Government,” said Clifton of the Alternative Law Forum.
Ms. Patkar said that the Chief Minister’s request for a week’s time was not acceptable and that the murderers must be punished at the earliest. “And that is not enough. They also must seriously take up the cause of prohibition,” she added. Several members who worked closely with him spoke at the function and promised to not let his life go waste.