Green activist shot dead near High Court
Times of India
An environmental activist, Amit Jethava, was shot dead outside the Gujarat High Court on Tuesday night.
The incident took place at 8.45pm when Jethava, who had come out of the bar council's office in Satyamev complex — situated opposite the High Court — was getting into his car. According to the Sola police station officials, the assailants had come on a bike and shot him with a crude revolver.
"Two assailants, each armed with a country-made revolver, were waiting next to Jethava's car," said a police official who is investigating the case. "One of them shot him in the back. Eyewitnesses say Jethava turned back and lunged at the bikers. A scuffle ensued and the duo fled the spot on foot, leaving their motorbike and dropping one of the revolvers. The bike's number is fake."
Sniffer dogs were put to work and the trail led towards Jethava's house at Vishwas City in Ghatlodia. On the way, cops found two 12-bore cartridges and a slipper.
Jethava was a former government employee who had been suspended for some irregularities. He turned into a wildlife activist based in Dhari, and established the Gir Nature Club. Eventually, he ventured into other areas of environmental activism and used the Right to Information (RTI) Act to dig out information about wrongdoings committed by industries and officials. Critics have pointed out that he was dubious in his dealings and often used to blackmail certain industries and officers.
Till about 2005, Jethava used to travel from Dhari to Ahmedabad in a bus to meet his lawyers through whom he used to fight several environment-related cases. However, in recent times, he had purchased an office and residential apartment in Ahmedabad and used to travel in his personal vehicle.
According to the police, Jethava, a native of Khamba in Amreli district, had recently locked horns with people indulging in illegal limestone mining in Kodinar.
"Jethava was dead soon after the incident. We have set up checkpoints to look for the suspects and block exits," said HM Kundaliya, an inspector of the Sola police station. Jethava a champion of environment issues
Ahmedabad: It was on Saturday last that activist Amit Jethava had helped a team of geology and mining department file an FIR with Kodinar police against illegal limestone miners. The miners had recently looted mining equipment seized during a raid and Jethava had spearheaded a campaign against illegal mining in his area.
He shifted base to Ahmedabad a year ago. Jethava, apart from being an environment activist, had forayed into Right to Information (RTI) issues. He had started an RTI information desk in Khamba taluka in Amreli district.
Be it lion poaching, illegal mining, the famous Aamir Khan-chinkara poaching case, the appointment of information commissioners in Gujarat—Jethava used RTI and public interest litigations (PIL) as weapons to fight for public issues. In his latest case Jethava had dragged the state government to Gujarat High Court regarding the appointment of an ombudsman or Lokayukta for Gujarat which has been pending since 2003.
Jethava had also written to state vigilance commission seeking action against corrupt forest officials.
In the lion poaching case of 2007, Jethava was among the first to blow the whistle on the mysterious deaths of lions in Gir forest. He later campaigned against shifting of lions to the Kuno Palpur national park in Madhya Pradesh. In the Aamir Khanchinkara poaching incident Jethava had earlier filed a writ petition in HC seeking quashing orders against a Bhuj court which stayed an inquiry against Khan.
Since 2006 Jethava spearheaded the RTI campaign in Khamba. Every month he and his team would organise mass awareness programmes regarding the new law. From school students to retired employees, women and small traders had been using this new tool in his taluka to get their rights.
Jethava had spearheaded the campaign against rising case pendency in the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) due to lack of commissioners. It was on his petition that the HC directed the state government to complete the appointments within a stipulated time.
He again came to the rescue of thousands of RTI users by filing a writ petition in the HC and made the government accept Indian Postal Order (IPO) as one of the modes of payment to deposit fees while filing of RTI applications.