On 16 August 2011, a prominent Indian environmental and social activist was shot dead while preparing to leave her home in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh. A passionate opponent of the “tiger mafia” and supporter of tribal peoples’ rights, Shehla Masood had recently also joined battle with Rio Tinto, attempting to prevent the world’s second biggest mining company extracting diamonds in her home state.
Shortly after Shehla’s death, several human rights’ and other organisations backed a statement which strongly implied Rio Tinto might have been behind the assassination. Among Ms Massod’s key strategic “tools” was the filing of Right to Information (RTI) requests, seeking to elicit evidence of illegal activity or regulatory violations. Ms Massod had filed an RTI against Rio Tinto and alleged that its exploration activities were already polluting a major river.
The outrage triggered by Shehla’s murder forced the state government to ask India’s Central Bureau of Information (CBI) to investigate who might have been responsible.
Meanwhile, on 25 August, the head of Rio Tinto India issued a statement denying any part in the killing, asserting that his company conducted its operations by “the highest ethical standards”.
See http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=11159.