POLTERGEISTS TRY TO ENTRAP JOURNALISTS ON PRESS DAY IN ORISSA, BUT FAIL

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

I got an invitation to attend National Press Day at IDCOL auditorium on 16th November at 5.30 PM “positively” to “receive The Janata Personal Accident Insurance for three years from the chief guest”.

The ruling party’s super-supremo Pyari Mohan Mohapatra was projected as the chief guest in the invitation card.

It was covered by a letter signed by three of Orissa’s known journalists under the letter head of an organization with a registered number, styled as National Journalist Welfare Board.

To my horror I found in the invitation card a list of 13 persons including four Ministers, two MPs and one MLA belonging to the ruling party and the rest comprising three officers of the National Government, one of an insurance company and two henchmen were to address the audience as Chief Guest, Chief Speaker, Guests of Honour, and Speakers. But surprisingly there was none from the Press to speak on this occasion. I decided to ignore the invitation.
Press Repressed
Press is being repressed as never before in Orissa. Rural reporters not showing inclination not to report starvation deaths, not to report baby-selling by helpless mothers, not to report stone eating by hungry landless tribes, not to report wretchedness of the displaced, not to report swindling away of welfare funds by the nexuses of officials and contractors, not to report hijacking of essential commodities from public distribution system into the black-market by traders, not to report clandestine trade of narcotics by police personnel of their localities, are being framed up in cooked up cases under severe charges such as sedition, a recent instance of which is the case clamped on Sambad reporter Laxman Choudhury and / or being brutally beaten up by ruling party goons, as has recently happened to Samaj reporter Jagannth Basita.
Official apathy
More tormenting than this is the cold apathy the State Government has deliberately shown in responding to appeals from the fourth estate to save Freedom of Press from such ongoing brutalization.
Shocking
It is shocking therefore that a few of the community of journalists in Orissa have tried to play tricks on the fraternity by clever offer of “accident insurance” through a pack of Orissa Ministers on the National Press Day, designed to divert attention form the plight of journalists in the hands of administration to their imagined disadvantage due to absence of insurance coverage.
Dubious
These fellows have floated an organization styled as “National Journalists Welfare Board”, which has no national authenticity,entity or accountability.

Its name is willfully contrived to show it as an authentic national organization. And, it is shown to be “in association with” the National Government’s media organizations like Press Information Bureau, Directorate of field Publicity, All India Radio and Doordarshan.

Has the National Government floated it? No.

Has the National Government adopted it? No.

Has the National Government accorded it any affiliation? No.

But local officials of the above noted wings of the National Government have, behind back of the National Government, allowed it to be seen as authentic by allowing the public to note that they are “in association with” this body.
Design
This dubious set-up, has, on the National Press Day, tried to corrupt the scribes’ community by entrapping them into the official design of “accident insurance”, with the idea that their real disadvantage lies not in prosecution by administration, but in loss of life or limbs in organized attacks or in action that could be termed as accidents normal in the profession!
Heartening
But it is heartening to note that majority of journalists have refused the offer, even though they were present in the auditorium to watch the event. Only 13 out of a hundred of State level accredited journalists offered the insurance accepted the policies when 87 of them refused to come to the podium.

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  1. One had heard about the “powerful” politicina buying off opposition and the journalists, one even hears about the way journalists in Delhi have been pocketed by the ruling BJD leader…but this, Sir, is an open display of power and corruption.
    Question is how long will this facade last?
    The people have started to see behind the masks and it will not take long for the pillars to shake and fall.
    The media needs to be fearless and bring forth the true public opinion.

    • Dear Subas Babu,

      Thanks for the nice piece of writing exposing the self-styled guardians of the media in Odisha.

      There was a time when politicians in power were using arm-twisting methods to gag media. But for last few years, many of the media persons are keen to surrender happily ( with pride ) before some powerful politicians to gain their favour.

      Though the number of colour newspapers, magazines and number of news TV channels has gone up in Odisha, it is unfortunate that most of them have become captive. They are eager to serve the interests of the influential politicians, corporate houses and vested interests at the cost of the profession, the State and the country as a whole.

      I would request you to kindly carry on your crusade against such people in the media, administration, politics and other fields.

      Jointly we should continue our fight for relaese of Sri
      Laxman Chaudhury, arrest of the assulters on Sri Jagannath Bastia and the assulters of Sri Sriharsha
      Mishra and his co-journalist Kiran Mishra in Jharsuguda.

      LONG LIVE MEDIA FREEDOM…..LONG LIVE MEDIA UNITY…

      Thanks again.
      Prasanta Patnaik,
      5RF/5, Unit-3, M.G. Marg,
      Bhubaneswar-751001.
      Mob: 9437005118.

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