Ahmedabad: AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal committed a gaffe at his rally here when he paid homage to four RTI activists, of whom three happen to be alive. Kejriwal started his speech on Saturday 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 paid 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 BJP'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 mining mafia.
But the other three are very much alive. Dewani (64), a lawyer from Porbandar district, told PTI, "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 AAP very soon. Kejriwal can provide good leadership to the RTI activists like us," Dewani added. On July 25, 2011 Dewani was pulled out of his car in Porbandar by five to six persons and was stabbed in his stomach, but he survived. He alleged that 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 (42) 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 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 following her RTI application seeking details of environment clearances obtained by a private firm. "She now lives in Vapi," one of the rights activists said.
When asked for a comment, AAP's Gujarat convener Sukhdev Patel said, "When he mentioned the names, I was not there, but I will certainly check this out."