Bhopal: A Right to Information (RTI) activist and former Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) worker who had filed a complaint against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Huzur constituency to the Election Commission last month, succumbed to injuries on Sunday, November 18, allegedly after falling from the terrace of his building mysteriously in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh.
Manoj Tripathi, (35) a resident of Dwarka Heights building in Sector B, Sarvdham Colony in Kolar area of Bhopal fell from the terrace of the five-storey building on the fourth day after his complaint, on the night of November 2.
He received multiple fractures and was rushed to the nearest Bansal Hospital. Since then he was on life support but succumbed to his injuries on November 18.
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Tripathi had become a thorn in the side of various powerful bureaucrats who were close to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan including S K Mishra (principal secretary to the Chief Minister), Mangla Mishra, Anupam Rajan and Anil Mathur, all senior IAS officers associated with the Directorate of Public Relations, Madhya Pradesh, for allegedly distributing money from the state treasury to fake news websites by giving publicity advertisements of the state government. Tripathi had also filed a corruption complaint against Radheshyam Julania, additional chief secretary of the Water Resources Department.
He had submitted his complaints to the Superintendent of Police and Economic Offences Wing and demanded action against those bureaucrats.
According to Tripathi’s family member, on November 2, minutes before the incident he went to the terrace with his phone, from where he allegedly fell. When they rushed to the spot after hearing A ruckus, they found three or four policemen standing next to his body.
Talking over phone with Newsclick, Tripathi’s brother, Anjani Pandey said, “I was returning home after dropping him at his residence when I received a call from his wife who informed me about the incident. I rushed back to his residence and found a few police personnel already present at the spot.”
“Nobody saw the incident and how he fell from the building—whether he fell or if someone pushed him,” he alleged.
Tripathi was a native of Uttar Pradesh’s Basti district and is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.
Just three days before the incident, he had submitted a complaint against Madhya Pradesh BJP Vice-President and MLA from Huzur constituency, Rameshwar Sharma regarding his involvement in illegal land encroachment.
The complaint dated October 29, 2018, was written to Chief Election Commissioner of India O P Rawat, Chief Election Commissioner of Madhya Pradesh VL Kantarao, and District Collector of Bhopal Sudam Khade and requested action.
In his complaint, Tripathi said that Rameshwar Sharma had forcefully acquired 7,000 square feet of government land and is illegally constructing a structure on it. He urged Rawat, Kantarao and Khade to file an FIR against Sharma and take appropriate legal action against him. Along with his complaint, he also attached the required documents and the map of the forcefully acquired area.
In 2017, Tripathi was arrested by the police for sitting on hunger strike at the gate of Bhopal Mayor Alok Sharma, demanding a probe into the modular toilet purchase by the Lokayukta after news of corruption.
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In another case, upset with the news of the then Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav’s alleged involvement in the infamous Vyapam scam, Tripathi had set himself on fire outside the gates of the house of the Governor on September 8, 2016, demanding the arrest of the governor on his last office day.
When questioned about Tripathi’s death, station house officer (SHO) of Kolar police station, Sunil Sharma said, “Tripathi was drunk and fell from the terrace and there is nothing suspicious about his death.”
On probing further, he said, “The body has been handed over to the kin and we will only be able to say more after the post-mortem report.”
Tripathi’s death came as a shock to many RTI activists of the state capital because Bhopal has had a history of RTI activists’ killing, like Shehla Masood.
Commenting over Tripathi’s death, Bhopal-based activist Ajay Dubey said, “I knew him very well. He was a brave person and not even in my wildest dream can I believe that he committed suicide, so there is foul play and there should be a free and fair enquiry into the matter.”
“He was actively working against corruption. Tripathi has done significant work regarding issues related to the municipal corporation, water resources and public works departments,” Dubey added.