Whistleblowers Murdered in India Show Fatal Hazard of Exposing Corruption

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

The 38-year-old businesswoman in the central Indian city of Bhopal had used India’s Right to Information Act to expose local corruption after she kept losing on government contracts. She died from a gunshot on Aug. 16 after getting into her car near her home. The murder is unsolved.

Masood is among at least 12 whistleblowers killed in India since January 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, while at least 40 people were assaulted after seeking information under the law. Enacted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh six years ago, the legislation has become the most powerful tool for fighting wrongdoing in politics and business, with 529,000 requests filed in the year through March. While some cases have prompted the resignation of public officials, users risk becoming victims of their success.

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