Time has turned a full circle in the case of Niyamat Ansari. It is on the brink of taking the same ugly turn witnessed exactly two years ago, when Ansari was murdered. The social activist had been fighting corruption in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme (MGNREGS) in Latehar.

Apparently acting at the behest of culprits behind Ansari’s killing, local Maoists have now threatened his sister, Saida Bibi, and even abducted Bhukhan Singh, the whistleblower’s close aide and companion in his struggle on the Centre’s flagship programme.

The ultras had approached Saida Bibi on Wednesday and threatened her with dire consequences. “The ‘party people’ (Naxals) told Saida to change her statement in court. They pressurised her to say she does not identify the persons languishing in jail (for murdering Ansari) and instead blame the ‘party’ for the crime. Otherwise she would meet a fate similar to her brother. She is terrified since then,” Nuroosha Bibi, Ansari’s wife, told The Pioneer.

Saida Bibi still lives in Jharua village, which Ansari’s wife had been forced to leave behind after his murder. She had left Manika block of Latehar and come to the town with her children.

Seven accused are behind the bars for the March 2, 2011 murder that had sent shockwaves across the nation. Facts coming to the fore now suggest that some of those arrested have had close association with Rajan Yadav and Pappu, reportedly Maoist ‘area commanders’. The Naxals are now terrorising the family members of the whistleblower and key witnesses to deviate from their original statements.

Activists like Jean Dreze, Aruna Roy, Arundhati Roy and several others had raised the matter on various platforms in 2011. A team headed by BK Sinha, the then Secretary in the Rural Development Ministry, had visited Kope gram panchayat in Latehar and filed a detailed report admitting rampant corruption and the role of contractors in the MGNREGA work in the area — the very issue raised by Ansari before he was silenced.

The rebels have been working on sabotaging the entire investigation into and even abducted Bhukhan on February 26 to frighten him into turning a hostile witness.  Bhukhan was released a day after and has been given police protection.

“Maoists often visit Jharua and bully the 14 to 15 eyewitnesses of the incident. They have even beaten a few to get them to change their statement before court,” said a local MGNREGA activist who is fighting for justice to Ansari.

The motive behind pushing the name of the Left-wing organisation for the killing is to save the culprits. It would be virtually impossible for the police to pinpoint individuals working in a Maoist organisation.

It would effectively silence the voice against siphoning of funds and the cold-blooded murder would be masked as another Naxal act.