RTI activist Venkatesh S, who was brutally attacked by a gang of five armed men in Tavarekere outside Bengaluru on Thursday, July 15, succumbed to his injuries on Sunday, July 18. On Thursday, the 43-year-old was attacked by a group of men who severed his limbs in public view. The incident purportedly occurred just a few metres from the jurisdictional police station. Venkatesh was then rushed to a nearby hospital. From there, he was taken to Hosmat Hospital, according to a report in The New Indian Express, where he underwent extensive surgery to reattach his right arm and leg, which were cut off in the attack. However, though he was under observation at the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, he reportedly died on Sunday, July 18.
The report quoted his brother Govindaraju as saying that his death was announced at 2.30 pm on Sunday. He further added that after performing his last rites, the family plans to protest outside Tavarekere police station, as they allege the policeâ€™s inaction in furthering the investigation into Venkateshâ€™s death and making arrests. According to the report, the family suspects that Venkatesh was killed over an RTI he had filed regarding a construction project on government land.
Venkateshâ€™s demise comes as a shock to RTI activists across the state, as he was the second such activist to be attacked in the last week. T Shridhar, a 40-year-old activist based in Harapanahalli in Bellary, was murdered by unidentified persons on July 15 as well. According to a report in the Times of India, the Karnataka RTI Activists State Committee has demanded a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the killings. The report quoted former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi and former State Information Commissioner L Krishna Murthy, who were part of the committee, as saying that both Venkatesh and T Sridhar were targeted by vested interests for all the information that the two possessed.
According to a report in the Deccan Herald, the Tavarekere police have made three arrests regarding Venkateshâ€™s murder. Those arrested include Pradeep Kumar TN, Satish TC and Tejas Kumar. Venkatesh had reportedly taken a loan from Pradeep, a financier, and later refused to pay further instalments despite repeated reminders. Pradeep then purportedly hired the 20-year-olds Satsih and Tejas to attack Venkatesh. The three told police that they did not intend to kill the activist, the report further states.