New Delhi: A Right to Information (RTI) activist from Barmer district, Rajasthan, was allegedly abducted, tortured, and left for dead on the roadside Tuesday evening. Amra Ram, 30, was severely injured in the assault.
According to Amra Ram, he had days earlier filed a police complaint against “illegal liquor trade” as well as “corruption” in two government schemes, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and the PM Awas Yojana, in Barmer’s Kumpaliya gram panchayat.
He has alleged that, due to this, “the liquor mafia and the current and former sarpanch [of Kumpaliya] are angry with me”.
Speaking to ThePrint, Barmer superintendent of police (SP) Deepak Bhargav said an FIR under Section 307 (attempt to murder) has been registered against unidentified accused in the wake of the attack, which has left Amra Ram with fractures in his legs and a spinal injury. “He is currently under treatment and is out of danger and stable. His statement has been recorded and the matter is under investigation,” the SP said.
The officer added that four people have been arrested so far, including Bhupenda, who is the son of the sarpanch of the neighbouring village Pareu.
The main accused named by the victim in the case is former Kumpaliya sarpanch Nagraj, whose “link is being probed”, a police source said.
Police sources told ThePrint that Nagraj Godara is a history-sheeter and has multiple cases of violence and assault against him. The current sarpanch of Kumaliya, Mamta, is his wife.
SP Bhargav said only an investigation can ascertain who is behind the attack.
‘They said we will teach you law’
In his complaint, a copy of which is with ThePrint, Amra Ram has alleged that he was abducted in a black SUV while returning from Jodhpur around 7pm Tuesday and taken to an isolated location about 5-6km away.
After about an hour of torture and beating, he said, he was thrown from the vehicle at the same spot from which he had been picked up.
“Six men stopped me while I was on my way back home, their faces were covered. I tried to run but couldn’t. They forced me into the car, two others were sitting inside and took me to an isolated location,” the complaint reads.
“They took my phone away and started beating me up and said that I have been filing complaints against former Kumpaliya sarpanch Nagraj, present sarpanch Mamta, and others who trade in liquor,” it adds.
Ram has alleged that he was hit all over his body with wires, chains, sticks, and rods. He also claimed that his legs were pierced with nails and that he was forced to drink a bottle of urine.
ThePrint has seen images and videos from the hospital that appear to show he was struck on his lower back and private parts with pointed objects. Both his legs look severely damaged below the knee.
According to Amra Ram’s complaint, his assailants mentioned the RTI activism he had been engaged in.
“They told me that I file complaints against the illicit liquor trade and the corruption in the gram panchayat, that I file RTIs…[they said] today we will teach you law. They then discussed among themselves that Nagraj should be informed that, according to his instructions, Amra Ram has been killed,” the complaint said.
Activist says he was ‘threatened’ for filing complaints
Ram said in his complaint that, on 15 December, he had filed a complaint at Gida police station against alleged illegal liquor businesses and corruption stemming from the gram panchayat.
On 19 December, the police conducted a raid and arrested some of the accused, he added.
When asked whether Nagraj had any links with this, police said the matter was under probe.
Ram, who is father to a two-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter, said he had been “threatened with dire consequences in the last couple of days”.
SP Bhargav confirmed to ThePrint that an FIR was lodged based on Ram’s complaint about the alleged illegal liquor businesses and corruption, but said only an investigation can ascertain who is behind the attack.
The victim’s elder brother, Bhima Ram, meanwhile, told ThePrint that Amra Ram had been working as an RTI activist for the past five or six years and had been “threatened repeatedly”.
“He was tied up and beaten with extreme brutality. We are lucky he is still alive,” the victim’s friend Rauta Ram said.
(Edited by Asavari Singh)