Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal committed a gaffe at his rally in Ahmedabad on Sunday when he paid homage to four RTI activists, of whom three happen to be alive.
Kejriwal started his speech by reading an obituary note in which he named Amit Jethwa, Bhagu Dewani, Jaysukh Bhambhaniya and Manisha Goswami as “martyrs” for the cause of society.
"First of all, I want to pay homage to those who have sacrificed their lives in the last 10 years while fighting against corruption in Gujarat," Kejriwal said, adding that he was paying homage to all of them "from the bottom of my heart".
After his four-day tour of the state to "inspect" the development as claimed by Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi, Kejriwal held a road show and later addressed a rally.
Of the four RTI activists he named, only Jethwa is dead. He was killed on July 20, 2010 in front of the Gujarat high court, allegedly by the mining mafia.
But the other three are very much alive.
Dewani, 64, a lawyer from Porbandar district, said, "I was attacked three years back, but right now my health is quite good and my fight against corruption is on. I am likely to join the AAP very soon. Kejriwal can provide good leadership to RTI activists like us”.
On July 25, 2011, Dewani was pulled out of his car in Porbandar by five to six miscreants and stabbed, but he survived the attack. He alleged that Gujarat Water Resources minister Babu Bokhiria was behind the attack.
He has also filed a petition in the high court accusing Bokhiria of running illegal mines in the Porbandar district.
Jaysukh Bhambhania, another RTI activist named by Kejriwal, said, "I am fortunate to be alive after an attack on August 24, 2011. I was attacked with swords and pipes followed by a failed acid attack, after I had filed an RTI application regarding construction of a restaurant and the bogus license issued by RTO to bike-vendors."
Bhambhania also blamed some local politicians and government officers for the attack.
Manisha Goswami was attacked on September 21, 2011 after she filed a RTI application seeking details of environment clearances obtained by a private firm.
"She now lives in Vapi," said a rights activist.
When asked to comment on the issue, AAP's Gujarat convener Sukhdev Patel said, "When he mentioned the names, I was not there, but I will certainly check this out."
Image: AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal in Gujarat ' Photograph Courtesy: https://www.facebook.com/AAPGujarat/