Member of the Presidium of Media Unity for Press Freedom, senior media leader Prasanta Pattanayak in a statement has attracted attention to ever increasing official attempts in Orissa to gag the Press. As the latest instance, he has raised the issue of assault on media persons in presence of the police at Bhaapur Block of Nayagarh district when they were covering a showdown between the ruling party and the Congress that is in Opposition in Orissa.
Here is his statement on behalf of MUFP:
Attack on media is on the rise in different places, mostly by the police and Govt. officials.
All of us are aware about the case of Laxman Chaudhuty, assult on Aromv reporters by senior Govt. officers, attack on OTV reporter by the Manager of Cuttack Urban Cooperative Bank etc. Raiding of house of senior journalist and writer Dandapani Mohanaptra of Ganjam without search warrant during his absence and terrorising his family members is one of the glaring examples of the attitude of the police. We are extremely sorry that despite our repeated appeal to the Chief Minister to ensure that the media functions freely in all levels, so far the Government has not been able to discipline its police officials and bureaucrats in this regard.
The latest incident of attack on the media persons took place on 16th March, 2010 at Bhaapur block in Nayagarh district where the media persons were attacked jointly by the police and some political hoodlums, while they were covering a demonstration by the Congress workers in front of the block office. Though the media persons appealed the policemen to save them from brick-batting and attack by the miscreants, the police failed to rescue them. Rather, they allegedly help the miscreants to continue their attack on the media with the sole intension to terrorize them.
A number of media persons from Nayagarh have informed that they have already lodged protest against the police and the local administration and have handed over a memorandum to the district collector demanding exemplary action within a week against the police personnel that are responsible for attack.