Statement on the Martyrdom of Shehla Masood

To add your name to this statement write to Akhlak Ahmad – syed.akhlak at gmail dot com

16 August, 2011

“I am proud to be an Indian. Happy Independence Day.”
– Shehla Masood, 15 August, 2011

Gandhi “the purpose of civil resistance is provocation”. Anna has succeeded in provoking the Govt and the Opposition. Hope he wins us freedom from corruption. Meet at 2 pm Boat Club Bhopal”
– Shehla Masood, 16 August, 2011 few minutes before her martyrdom

Shehla Masood, a Madhya Pradesh based civil rights and environmental rights activist was was shot dead by an unidentified person in front of her residence in Koh-e-Fiza locality in Bhopal around 11 AM on 16th August, 2011.

We the undersigned aghast at the irony that tigers, tribals, trees and civil rights and environmental rights activists are being hunted and killed in the same manner.

We demand that the possible connection between her murder and her raising the issue of illegal Diamond mining project in Chhattarpur district, Madhya Pradesh by Rio Tinto, a transnational mining company headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange must be investigated along with other suspicions by a high level probe team.

She was active to save the watershed of the Panna Tiger Reserve and the Shyamri River, one of the cleanest in the country from Rio Tinto’s mining activity along with other activists.

We suspect that the considered timing of her elimination during the ongoing anti-corruption campaign when she was on her way to support Anna Hazare’s fast is meant to overshadow the issue of illegal Diamond mining project in Chhattarpur district, Madhya Pradesh by Rio Tinto and the political Mafiosi.

The mining block is inside a forest which is the northernmost tip of the best corridor of teak forests south of the Gangetic plain. It is an established law that mining is non-forestry activity. There is an immediate need for a probe to determine who allowed the mining to take place in such an ecologically fragile area.

The Bunder mine project, near the city of Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh, about 500 kilometres south-east of Delhi, is likely to be one of the largest diamond reserves in the world. It is estimated that there is a ”inferred resource” of 27.4 million carats, a diamonds resource seven times richer than the Panna mine, country’s only working diamond mine.

A statement dated March 22, 2011 was laid in the Parliament (Lok Sabha) on “need to review the diamond mining project in district Chhattarpur, Madhya Pradesh posing serious threat to environment in the region”.

We have learnt from senior journalists that two Collectors have been transferred to facilitate the ongoing illegal mining and the fact that the new Collector has allowed mining which came to light when a PIL was filed stating that Rio Tinto has been carrying on exploitation of mineral resources in Chattarpur district violating the prescribed provisions.

Prior to the statement in the Lok Sabha, on March 10, 2011, the FOREST ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING of Ministry of Environment & Forests listed Agenda no. 6 on “ Prospecting of diamond at 143 additional locations in 2329.75 ha. forest land located in 18 compartments in Buxwaha Range in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh by M/s Rio Tinto Exploration India Private Limited. [File No. 8-49/2006-FC-(Vol.)]” to discuss it but did not do so stating, “Due to paucity of time the proposal could not be discussed during the meeting”.

We had written to the Union Environment Minister and Parliamentary Petitions Committee separately drawing its attention towards Madhya Pradesh High Court’s notices to the Centre and the state government on illegal mining of diamonds by international mining companies. The court had asked both the governments to reply in this matter within four weeks. Considering the act of illegal mining as a serious offence, a double bench of Chief Justice Sayed Rafat Alam and Justice Sushil Harkauli criticised the Forest Departments, Mining Secretaries of the state as well as the Centre and issued notices against them in addition to the Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board and Chattarpur Collector.

We take cognisance of the fact that Corporate Watch, a London based group had chosen Rio Tinto to award it for its display of heinous, misguided, and altogether anti-social behaviour over the last ten years in 2010.

We take note of ‘Rio Tinto: the Tainted Titan,’ the Stakeholders Report,, 1997, which states “It’s (Rio Tinto’s) activities in some of the wildest and the most pristine places in the world and their impact on the environment of those places, the people who live there, the life-style of the indigenous people and also its corporate culture, are subjects of real concern.”

We submit that Rio Tinto project is threatening unique forest resources in the area affected by the mine in Chhattarpur, MP. In this context, it may be noted that Roger Moody, a veteran journalist in his book Plunder, describes Rio Tinto’s activities as ranging from “brow-beating opponents, leaning on governments and price-fixing, to violating international law, union-busting and management of one of the world’s biggest commodity cartels”. His book outlines numerous examples of its environmental irresponsibility.

It is germane to recollect what Sir Roderick Carnegie, as Chairman Rio Tinto-Zinc (RTZ) had said at its 1984 shareholders’ meeting: “The right to land depends on the ability to defend it”.

We salute the struggle and martyrdom of Shehla Masood who defended our forests, rivers, land and wildlife in the face of unscrupulous corporate assault in nexus with ruling political regimes.

Shehla Masood used to conclude her messages with a proud “Roarrrrr” that cannot be silenced by the bullets of her assailants.


See also: Shehla Masood’s Facebook photos (needs Facebook login)

40 thoughts on “Statement on the Martyrdom of Shehla Masood”

  1. Its a Blasphemy, a coward act by Inhuman, i protest for the same cause what she has started, please let me know how nd when i have to do???????

    Najeeb Khan


  2. The Indian state was born out of many dreams and many deaths. The dreams have shattered, the deaths have become ghastlier.


  3. She was a gusty lady who feared none. In a state like Madhya Pradesh where everybody at somepoint gets ‘managed’, she was not manage-able. She spoke without fear and was never overawed by either politicians’ connections or bureaucrats’ clout.

    Sad that we don’t have many Shehla Masoods amongst us.


  4. The worst thing is that often these happen, and we forget after a while, what is actually wanted by the killlers aka the mafia, and rest — the issues gradually get buried deep into our memories. This time, let’s take a vow to draw up a positive propaganda to keep this issue live —at least for the sake of the cause for which a bright yound lady had to sacrifice her life.


  5. Shehla Masood and your “Roarrrrr” can’t be silenced with one bullet.she shall live amongst us forever and she wd be joined by other roarrrr’s.


  6. What a SHAME.

    Slowly and surely India is seeing REAL death “by thousand cuts” of herself.

    i demand the criminals should be caught and punished.


  7. a little pained that this is getting underplayed in the din of the countrywide protests on something she was associated with…i hope someone has told Anna about this incident…a parallel countywide protest must begin …in the last six months i think more than 4 RTI activists and whistleblowers have been killed…


  8. Shehla is a ICON for many people like me. Her initiative through the facebook group ‘I will make sure that MP remains a Tiger State’ attracted me to join her campaign. though we never met, but still there is a STRONG BOND between us. I know that her soul will not rest in peace till her dreams of a totally transformed world turns into a reality, till JHURJHURA gets justice. I totally support your campaign, becouse I want Shehla should get justice. Only then I think her soul would REST IN PEACE.


  9. Most distressing. I add my name to the long list of those who salute her courage and her struggle.


  10. Her death can not go in vain …. the guilty need to be punished … quickly and severely so that this doesn’t become the standard practice …. may god give strength to her family and friends to cope in these difficult times …


  11. If it is a diamond mine , let there be no blood diamonds from India. We can always make artificial ones for industrial purposes. Why rampage the beautiful forests which give us life for stones which at best will adorn undeserving celebrities!!
    Let the diamonds lie.


  12. Sad to see the demise of such a committed activist. Hope the crime wouldn’t go unpunished and Shehla’s agenda will be picked up by others in Bhopal


  13. It takes a 73 year old man and his will power to lead a country where the average age is 26 years. Where is Corporate India? Where is the Premier Management crowd ? Where is Bollywood ? Where is Sports India? We live in a country where each one is interested in filling their coffers…..

    Its not “India Shine” its “India Shame” time now.


  14. R.I.P Shehla – I didn’t know you, but what your deeds and tragic death will inspire many to stick to their path.


  15. Collectors have been send to facilitate this ? That’ a pity. Shehla Masood must have been a really courageous person to raise a voice against all these ill doings. Most of us only sit back and groan. What can be done about this now ?


    1. The utter shamelessness of this!
      The news report says the post mortem showed “Only one bullet was fired; the fire was not from outside; when the shot was fired the car doors were closed; the shot was fired from a very close range; the trachea was completely damaged. MLI director Dr B S Badkur said that there were no signs of struggle.”

      But crucially, “No weapon was found inside the car”! So is this not completely consistent with (and ONLY consistent with) another person seated in the car, shooting her and leaving? How can it possibly suggest anything else?

      My salute to Shehla…


  16. I shed silent tears of despair. I feel so defeated at times, when the voice of honest good people is snuffed out with qualms:( Is this land called India turning too dark for our own good? What do we have to do to stop it from getting any darker?


  17. I add my name to the list of those who will take her work forward and stand in solidarity for the brave heart. Will share the link to this on my blog. Her martyrdom won’t go waste. RIP Shehla Masood. As we know those who dare to bare the illegal and nefarious activities of Mining Mafia and other such agencies working under the protection of Govt officials are silenced. She is not the first to be killed. To think that now the govt is calling is a suicide bid is horrendous. The killers should be caught and hanged. The roarrrr will echo forever.


  18. I am sad &appalled by her martyrdom. Our country needs more Shehlas to wipe out the scourge of rampant corruption in society. We hope your killers are found and hanged or better still shot dead by people of India. This government will give shelter to such dastards.


    1. may be the first loss of life of Anna movement. there should be a through investigation. media should not speculate. catch the culprit and hang.


  19. I am deep shocked to hear about such cowardly act. In last two years numbers of RTI activist has lost their lives. Activist fight for common issues and when they face threat neither government nor pubic came to support them, then whats the point of activism? But still they fight for truth. In july-2010 Gujarat based RTI and environment activist Amit Jethwa was shot dead in front of Gujarat Highcourt. Land mafia and BJP MP Dinu Solanki was involved in murder of slain activist. but he is still at large and police framed his nephew instead of MP. what his family got? Shehla Masood is killed by same pattern, her deeds and tragic death will inspire many to stick to their path. I salute her bravery and martyrdom. may her soul rest in peace.


  20. انها اعمال تثير الغضب والانزعاج الشديد وخاصة ان السيدة هى ناشطة فى حقوق الانسان وتقتل بهكذا طريقة مريبة وتصمت الحكومة تجاه هذه الانتهاكات الحكومة هى المسؤلة عن اغتيالها ويجب على المحاكم او محاميين حقوق الانسان رفع مذكرة اتهام بحق الحكومة
    بكل الاسى بلغنا نباء اغتيال السيدة واانا منزعجين جدا ونشعر ببالغ القلق من تلك الانتهاكات


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