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In India, Whistle-Blowers Pay with Their Lives

The Right to Information Act gives citizens a way to probe government

The shooter managed with one bullet what dozens of threats had failed to do: Silence Shehla Masood.

Masood, a 38-year-old businesswoman in Bhopal, used public documents obtained under India’s Right to Information Act to expose local political corruption after she kept losing on government contracts. Her still unsolved Aug. 16 murder makes her the 12th Indian killed since January 2010 after invoking the RTI to reveal wrongdoing. Although no official numbers are kept, interviews with law enforcement and victims’ families reveal at least 40 others have been beaten or attacked after filing requests under the six-year-old act.