While civil society groups in Madhya Pradesh preferred to remain silent over RTI activist Shehla Masood's mysterious death, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh wrote to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan expressing shock at the activist's murder.
“I was shocked to read of the shooting of Ms. Shehla Masood...She was young and enthusiastic and I am very sad that she met an untimely end in such a brutal manner,” Mr. Ramesh wrote in his letter.
Recalling the slain activist's correspondence with him over several issues of environment and tiger conservation, the former Environment Minister said: “She brought to my notice issues relating to Panna and Bandhavgarh and I recall having spoken to Dr. Rajesh Gopal, member secretary NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority) and Dr. H.S. Pabla, Chief Wildlife Warden, Madhya Pradesh about her complaints.”
“I sincerely hope that the state government will bring the killer or killers to book soon. This is the least we owe to the memory of a committed activist,” Mr. Ramesh concluded.
Meanwhile, some local media reports reported the death as being a possible suicide. Also, the State government effected a major reshuffle in the police department right after Ms. Masood's death, transferring senior police officers overnight.
“We don't know whether it was murder or suicide. In fact, we can't say anything as investigations are still going on,” newly appointed Senior Superintendent of Police (Bhopal) Yogesh Chaudhary told The Hindu.
The opposition Congress party, along with Ms. Masood's family, has demanded a CBI probe.