RTI activist probing illegal construction goes missing

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Mohammed-Iqbal-ShaikhA South Mumbai-based Right to Information (RTI) activist has been missing for the past 11 days. A friend of the activist suspects that someone has abducted him to exact vengeance for a certain RTI application filed by him. Forty-six-year-old Moham-med Iqbal Ismail Shaikh had filed an RTI and based on the responses, complained to the authorities against an illegally constructed guesthouse in Pydhonie, from where two suspected terror operatives had earlier been arrested.

Shaikh, a resident of Supariwala building in Pydhonie, has been missing since April 12. His son Mohsin (21) has registered a ‘missing’ complaint (copy with MiD DAY) with the Pydhonie police station. “The police began taking the matter seriously after we met zonal deputy commissioner of police Nisar Tamboli,” Mohsin said.

According to Shaikh’s wife Rukhsana (43), he told her he was going to check the status of his train reservation for Ajmer Sharif and left on his Activa bike. Later in the evening, when she called on his mobile, a woman answered the call. When Rukhsana asked her who she was, she said Shaikh would give her the introduction over the phone in a while and hung up. Rukhsana called up again, and the same woman informed her that Shaikh was on his way to Thane along with her. After 10 pm, the mobile had been switched off.

“I don’t know anyone who had an enmity with my husband. If he is being held captive, I request the abductors to release him for the sake of my children,” said Rukhsana. A friend of Shaikh, who is also an RTI activist, requested anonymity to reveal that Shaikh had recently obtained information about the controversial guesthouse. In January this year, the police had arrested two suspected Hizbul Mujahideen operatives Farooq Naiku and Mohammed Talukdar from its premises.

He also revealed that Shaikh had in his possession a compromising video clip of a civil contractor infamous for illegal constructions in south Mumbai. Said another one of Shaikh’s friends on the condition of anonymity, “It is believed that he has been kidnapped since he has not returned home or contacted his family yet.”

Senior inspector P D’Souza of Pydhonie police station said, “We have registered a ‘missing’ complaint and we are in touch with the family. Investigations are on.” A police sub-inspector perceived to be close to Shaikh has been questioned in the matter. Incidentally, Shaikh had bene out of work since his shop in Sara-Sahara market was gutted in a major fire two years ago.

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