Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Tarun Vijay Thursday praised RTI activist Shehla Masood after police said he would be questioned over her audacious murder.
With Home Minister P. Chidambaram hinting a CBI probe into the murder was possible, Tarun Vijay admitted talking to her on the day of her murder Aug 16 but said it was all about Anna Hazare.
He told journalists here that he knew Masood as she worked as an event manager in Jammu and Kashmir, Kolkata and Delhi.
“Shehla Masood, as an event manager, had worked with us in several projects. We knew her, she was a brave RTI activist, a very good friend,” he said.
The MP said that as she was the convenor of India Against Corruption (IAC), the network which Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign, “we regularly exchanged notes”.
According to Madhya Pradesh Police, phone records of Masood show she spoke to Tarun Vijay Aug 15 and 16.
Inspector General of Police Vijay Yadav said in Bhopal that a police team would go to New Delhi to question the MP.
But Tarun Vijay refused to take questions on her murder on grounds the matter was under investigation.
“Even on 16th morning when Anna was arrested (in Delhi), we had spoken in the morning at 9.30 about Anna, about the movement, about demonstrations.
“It is very sad, it has hurt us deeply to know about her murder,” he said. “We want justice for Shehla.”
Masood, an anti-corruption crusader, was shot in the neck outside her home in Koh-e-Fiza area Aug 16 morning.
Her murder shocked Madhya Pradesh — and RTI activists across India.
In April, she led street protests when Hazare fasted in New Delhi for the first time.
The day before her murder, Masood had vowed to expose widespread corruption and asserted that she had several vital documents to back her claims.
Demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe, Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh said the circumstances in which Masood was murdered were suspicious.
“Now that Tarun Vijay’s name has come up in this case, I think he and the chief minister (BJP’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan) should hand over the case to CBI,” Digvijay Singh told reporters.
“It is a brutal murder. The way Shehla Masood was murdered, it is very sad. And it is very surprising this killing took place during the daytime around 11 in a locality where VIPs stay. A thorough investigation should be done. We have demanded a CBI inquiry into it,” he said.
Digvijay Singh added that RTI activists were being killed in BJP-ruled states.
“This is really sad. The CBI should probe the case. Everything needs to be clarified,” added his colleage and Congress general secretary B.K. Hariprasad.
Calling the murder a “serious” matter, Chidambaram said Madhya Pradesh can seek a CBI inquiry.
“If there is a request, we will take an appropriate decision. First, there must be a reference from the (state) government,” he said.
“If there is a letter from the state government, we will address it with the urgency required,” he said.