21st February 2014
Mr. Rakesh Maria,
Commissioner of Police, Mumbai,
Dear Mr. Maria,
Subject: Protection of activists working in the Public Interest – revival of special cell instituted by Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor in 2008.
We take this opportunity to welcome you as Police Commissioner of Mumbai and appreciate your endeavor to make street crime one of your top priorities, as also your effort to identify and further important initiatives undertaken by your predecessors.
In 2008, then Police Commissioner Mr Hasan Gafoor, following an attack on AGNI activist James John and a joint representation by several NGOs and prominent citizens including MITRA, AGNI, PCGT, Awaaz Foundation, Mr. Julio Ribeiro and Mr. Shailesh Gandhi, formulated a special cell for identification and protection of known public-interest activists. The Additional Commissioners of Police were made responsible for identification, interaction and protection of activists working in the public interest.
Most attacks against public-interest activists are perpetrated by the easily- identifiable vested interests they oppose and occur in public locations, which would classify them as street crimes. MITRA (Movement against Intimidation, Threat and Revenge against Activists) was founded in 2004 after a physical assault on the undersigned, Sumaira Abdulali. Unfortunately, in spite of several threats, attacks and murders even after this time, none of us have been included in any effort to identify or protect known activists. Some attacks on activists/RTI activists/journalists working in the public interest in Mumbai and Maharashtra after 2008 are attached.
MITRA appeals to you to consider this issue of protection of activists working through NGOs and public-spirited individuals opposing the illegal activities of vested interests and to give it topmost priority.
We appeal to you to revive a formal mechanism to identify and protect such public-spirited individuals in a participatory and inclusive manner.
Thank you and regards
Movement against Intimidation, Threat and Revenge against Activists (MITRA)
Incomplete list of public interest activists in Maharashtra who have been physically attacked or killed since 2008
Coordinator for Malad North of AGNI and
Janhit Manch, Mumbai
In September 2009
Attacked by Shrikant Mishra of Samajwadi Party for protesting his illegal garage
Attacked with steel roads for protesting against water theft
Awaaz Foundation, Mumbai
Attacked site at Mahad
Attacked at gunpoint
RTI Activist in Pune
RTI Activist attacked in Kandivali
Attacked with chopper and hammer
RTI Activist in Bhandup
RTI activist in Virar