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Right to Information campaigner shot dead

(RSF/IFEX) - 17 August 2011 - Reporters Without Borders expressed deep shock today at the murder of Indian freedom of information activist and blogger Shehla Masood and called for an impartial and independent investigation, the arrest of the killer, respect for the right to information and protection of its supporters.

Masood, 39, had campaigned for enforcement of the Right to Information (RTI) Act for the past two years and was on her way to a demonstration in support of jailed anti-corruption leader Anna Hazare. She was shot in the neck as she got into a car in front of her home in the central Indian city of Bhopal yesterday.

The 2005 RTI Act provides access to certain public documents but those seeking them (especially material involving sensitive local matters) are often targeted by officials, with a dozen people apparently killed last year for doing so.

Masood had been threatened before and three years ago complained that a police officer was harassing her. Nothing was done, so she wrote to the local (state) police chief saying she had feared for her life as early as January 2010.

Several Facebook pages have been created in her memory, including "Shehla Masood, a tribute", "R.I.P. Shehla Masood" and "Punish Shehla Masood's Killers".

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