Police must take stock of how the Police Station at Niali is functioning

As public protest against murder of RTI activist Krupasindhu Sahu is scheduled to be held at Niali on Feb.10, worried government has referred the matter of his murder to the Crime Branch of State Police for investigation.

In response to Saturday demand for government action in the matter, on behalf of the Chief Minister, Parliamentary Affairs Minister B. K. Arukh told Orissa Assembly on Monday that three persons accused of the murder have already been arrested when Karttik Pani, allegedly the main accused, is yet to enter the police dragnet. But he can’t escape, he assured.

Sahu’s body was found buried in the riverbed near the village of Bainchua of Niali P.S. on information obtained from Karttik’s mother Sushila Pani. Along with her, Police has arrested Pratap Jena and Manju Sahu.

Karttik is a habitual offender, currently under police scanning in five more felonious offences. He has already spent life in jail in a murder case.

Police may arrest him soon. But, more important it is to ascertain on whose behalf the RTI activist has been exterminated.

A journalist Bhavani Parija has allegedly got intimidating threats for his RTI activism. The same Niali Police has tortured him inside the Police Station forcing him to stand whole night in the Hazat on Feb.6 and then declared arrested on Feb.7 at 10.30 AM.

This is a serious syndrome. Police must take stock of how the Police Station at Niali is functioning.

Alleged murder of RTI activist Krupasindhu Sahu: Public protest on Feb.10 at Niali

A Public meeting  in protest against kidnap and murder of  Sri Krupasindhu Sahu, RTI Activist  will be held  at  Niali  Boys’ High School  on 10.2.15 at 4.30 PM.  All the Activists,  intellectuals,  academicians  are requested to join  the programme  and express solidarity  to  fight out  corruption and irregularities  in State Administration and  ensuring justice to the bereaved family of the victims.

The decision for the public meeting was taken in he state Convention of  RTI Activists and Human Rights Organizations  held at Lohia Bhaawan on 5.2.15.

Following was the resolution adopted.

The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) expresses deep shock and anguish over the alleged murder of RTI activist Kripasindhu Sahu, around 26th January 2015, in Nachhinga village under Krushnaprasad Panchayat of Niali Block, Cuttack district, Odisha. Mr. Sahu’s alleged murder follows close on the heels of the alleged murder of another RTI activist Mr. Ganesh Chandra Panda, in Odisha on 28th December, 2014.

According to media reports and an independent fact-finding report subimitted by a four-member team of Human Rights Activists operating in Odisha (report annexed to this press release), Mr. Sahu had obtained information under the RTI Act that brought to the fore “huge corruption and irregularities in BGREI fund sanctioned for development of agriculture by influential and powerful political people”. This disclosure allegedly motivated affected persons, who belong to the ruling political party, to plan and execute Mr. Sahu’s alleged murder at the behest of contract killers. The fact-finding report buttresses this claim by stating that the SDPO of the concerned jurisdiction has opined that Mr. Sahu’s death was undoubtedly a pre-planned murder.

Though an FIR has been registered in Mr. Sahu’s alleged murder, the fact-finding report highlights disturbing trends of callous investigation and suggests that the independence of the investigating agency may have been compromised at the behest of powerful persons involved in Mr.Sahu’s alleged murder.

The death of Mr. Sahu under such suspicious circumstances adds to the long list of tragedies that highlight the clear and present danger to all RTI users face from vested interests that are allowed to operate with impunity. NCPRI demands that the Government of Odisha act swiftly to identify Mr. Sahu assailants and bring them to justice. Further, we demand swift and impartial investigation into the cause and motive behind his killing.

In the wake of reports of increased victimisation of whistleblowers like Mr. Sahu across India, it is important to reiterate that the primary duty of the State is to protect each one of its citizens, particularly those at greater risk because they are crusading for transparency and accountability. After immense public pressure, the Parliament passed the Whistleblower’s Protection Act (WBPA) in February 2014. The Act received Presidential assent on the 9th of May 2014 and was notified in the Gazette of India on the 12th. However, even after seven months the Act is yet to be operationalized as the Central Government has failed to frame Rules to supplement the Act. To prevent victimization of whistleblowers, the NCPRI urges the Central Government to operationalize the WBPA in its present form by framing appropriate Rules and Regulations without further delay.

Distress sale of Paddy: Cries of ruling party MLAs also fail to reach the ears of the Minister

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Official machinery does not act. Cultivators are not able to sell their paddy to the State. This leads to distress sale of paddy, much below the fixed support price, to profiteers / millers’ agents.

This reality was spelt out in Orissa Assembly by the ruling party heavyweight and former Revenue Minister Surya Narayan Patra on Saturday in expressing dismay over lackluster assurances of the departmental minister in reply to his question over Food Security as well as in participating in the matter raised by Opposition Chief Whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati during the zero hour.

Patra is not only a former Revenue Minister, but also a legislator from the district that has sent Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to the Assembly despite all his failings and dubious deals. In that district – Ganjam – from Patra’s speech it is clear, that cultivators are perishing due to official apathy when Naveen Patnaik and his government never miss a moment to serve the interests of mega industries.

Patra said, in the district of Ganjam farmers have come to a stage, where for them, suicide seems the only way to escape the debt-trap and ignominy of abject poverty and helplessness. God knows what the government’s order is in matter of paddy procurement, but thousands of quintals of paddy piled by farmers awaiting purchase thereof by the officials is the discernible reality in every procurement point in every block in the districts, he rued, while exposing that the predicament is forcing the farmers to distress-sale their paddy at unremunerative price to mill-agents from Andhra Pradesh.

Patra was not the only member of the treasury bench to have castigated the government over official failure to procure paddy from the cultivators. Purna Chandra Sethy, member from Khalikote of the same district also showed how the farmers are perishing as the State has pushed them into mercy of private profiteers.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister Sanjay Kumar Das Burma watched the debates without any reaction or reply. What irrelevance the government has reduced the Assembly to.

No ruling from the Speaker on the issue, though allowed to be discussed in the zero hour, makes the matter murkier.

Eagerness to adjourn the House after obituary mention should stop

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa Assembly yet again stopped from transacting its normal business by declaration of adjournment for the day after obituary mentions.

This may be justified in the style of tradition; but it is a loss of a day on start of the session.

The day began on Friday with Governor’s customary address to the House as the budget session was to commence. Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra lost no time in accusing the Governor of being a party to the misrepresentation of facts that the misruling ministry wants to mislead the people with. When administration runs in the name of the Governor and ministry runs under his pleasure, it is not becoming of him to read out false reports on good governance without verifying the real picture of maladministration. The Governor has been notified by the Congress in due course of specific instances of misrule. This should have awoke the Governor to the reality and had it been so, his speech should have focus on how to bring remedy to the wrongs done to the people of the State. Sri Mishra’s protests not heeded to, the Congress boycotted the Governor and left the House. The second big group BJP had also deemed it proper to boycott the house on the premise of falsehood resorted to in the Governor’s speech.

After being such addressed by the Governor, agenda of obituary mentions were taken up where all the parties took part. Then the House was adjourned for the day.

Is obituary mention not enough? Was there any binding necessity to adjourn all other businesses of the day in honor of late lamented ones?

The practice should stop.

Thieves always see their enemies in the Moon

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Journalist Satya Prakash Nayak of Zee-Kalinga, who has been aptly, ably and fearlessly exposing the misrule that has engulfed Orissa, has posted the following words in social media: FaceBook.

In these testing times, it is indeed tough to tread on the path of ‘SATYAPATH’….After sincere and truthful journalistic career and scores of investigative stories, causing high impact, a commoner like me has attracted the wrath of the high and mighty. Sometimes my family is probed under the cover of ”regular inspection”. Sometimes I get threat calls that I shall be killed or thrown behind bars under false case of woman harassment. These forces however cannot deter my spirit. Coz my ISHWAR or PRABHU is on my side.I am ready to do Satya Ra Samna….Are you with me?

Our answer is the strongest ever possible: YES.

We know, ever since Naveen Patnaik has taken over Orissa, attack on Press has become as frequent as menacing. Attack on Journalists by criminals under the nose of the police,leading even to annihilation of some is as rampant in Orissa as arresting and torturing uncompromising ones under charges of sedition. In submitting a well documented White Paper on such menacing attack on Press, Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) had cited many instances including what happened to Kirti Chandra Sahu, Khuturam Sunani,  Meghanad Kharsel , Lenin Ray, Laxman Choudhury, Sriharsha Mishra,  Kirana Mishra, Jagannath Bastia, Banka Bihari Bishoi, Dinesh Das , Ashok Pradhan, Bolan Gangopadyaya, Abhay Pati, Dandapani Mohapatra,  Amulya Kumar Pati, Manas Jena, Sujit Mullick, Chandrakanta Das, Biranjan Mallik, Jagadananda Pradhan, Prasanta Patnaik, Akhand, Bhabani Das, Suryamani Mishra, Debasis Mallik, Ramnarayan Das, Srikanta Sahoo, Somanath Sahu, Kiran,  Prasanta, NM Baisakh, Anup Ray and Rajat Ranjan Das. A lady journalist – name kept hidden – was even molested by uniformed men at ISCON car festival, Bhubaneswar, such has become congenial the climate to crime against the scribes in Orissa. Attack on individual journalists apart media organizations are also being attacked by hooligans. An instance is attack on EPA weekly at Bhubaneswar.

The White Paper on Attack on Press in Orissa mentioned. “A major reason behind the spurt in attacks on media persons in Orissa is the state government’s growing intolerance to any view that does not toe the government line on corporate and mining interests –particularly those dealing in precious metals like iron ore and bauxite. These companies, people are told, will usher in ‘rapid development’, create enormous employment opportunities and make Orissa a land of milk and honey. There is a concerted effort to manufacture consensus on the need to roll out the red carpet to these companies and turn a blind eye to their flagrant violation of all laws and norms of civilized corporate behavior. When media persons refuse to buy this line and raise questions on the acts of omission and commission by the government and the corporates, the wrath of the government falls on them like a ton of bricks” (MUFP White Paper released on March 5, 2011)

The attempt to intimidate Satya Prakash Nayak is the latest instance of threat to Freedom of Press in Orissa. Thieves always see their enemies in the Moon. When Satya has been exposing the misrule that has engulfed Orissa, who is he that is seeing his enemy in Satya Prakash? Overwhelmed by attack on Press, for the first time in history of Orissa, members of Press had boycotted on records the proceedings of the Assembly in July 2010 and the whole House had expressed agony over the Government’s failure to protect the Press. We had suggested that a specific Law be enacted to ensure safety of journalists. Till date the politicians have stayed away from creating such a legislation. The following topic carries our suggestion. It was captioned:

Needed is a Law against attack on Press

Somewhere someone sometimes listens; Govt. to fill up 50,000 vacancies under impact of ORISSA MATTERS

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The Government of the day in Orissa is undoubtedly a very irresponsible government which has been proved by it attempts to escape accountability in the last session of the Assembly. Its entire body is emitting putrefied odor because of blistering scams and scandals.

Yet, somewhere in its anti-people corridors, someone sometimes listens to good advice. Otherwise, a decision to fill up 50,000 vacancies by March this year could not have been made.

The meretricious concern of the government for the people starved of required service from various departments transformed into legal terms in a new law styled “The Orissa Right to Public Service Act 2012” had provoked us to warn that thereby the minified executive would only be harassed and victimized, pushing the State into a new phase of chaos.

We had, and only we had in the whole of media world and thinking community, discussed and pointed out why this new Law shall generate more problems than solution. The discussion was captioned “The Orissa Public Service Act, 2012 will demoralize minified Executive and create Chaos”. It was published on January 5, 2013 almost immediately after the launching of the Act with unprecedented fanfare.

The link below would lead to that discussion.

http://orissamatters.com/2013/01/05/the-orissa-public-services-act-2012-will-demoralize-the-minified-executive-and-create-chaos/

The fear of ORISSA MATTERS came true in cases like punishment of fine imposed by the District Collector on Tahsildar, Bolangir without regard to severe shortage of hand there. We had reacted to the rash action under the caption: Lowest Revenue Officer fined under Right to Public Service Act: But is it the Solution?

ORISSA MATTERS carried the exposure on October 11, 2014. Its link is:

http://orissamatters.com/2014/10/11/lowest-revenue-office-fined-under-right-to-public-service-act-but-is-it-the-solution/

This emphatic exposure of the mischief was seriously viewed in higher echelons of administration that decided to fill up at least 50,000 vacancies by the end of the current financial year.

We shall wait and watch to what extent the decision is carried out.

Opposition ‘NO’ is a slap on Naveen

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa Pradesh Congress Committee has said ‘NO’ to inclusion of its member in the Committee formed by the State Government to study how Legislative Councils function in other State.

How could the Government dare to form such a Committee and include one of its MLA in the said Committee when the power of appointing any Committee of MLAs in any matter that has or may have any link with any legislative action rests only with the Assembly and/or the Speaker, asked PCC Chief Prasad Harichandan, while holding the modus operandi of the Government as anti-democracy .

Disillusionment is spreading like wildfire in the BJD, precipitated by collapse of credibility of the Chief Minister, as the tempest of investigation into chit fund and other scams and scandals has already thrown a pack of party heavyweights into jails as under-trial-prisoners; and sure that their colleagues in power have pocketed fabulous sums of money under the knowledge of or in connivance of their boss-cum-Chief Minister, many of BJD members, who matter, are strongly indicating that, they need their share of the cake. This has unnerved Naveen.

Prasad says, the Legislative Council idea, which he had mooted but the Government had not cooperated with, is being exploited at this juncture by the ruling party to tackle the contradiction it is facing following scam exposures. The government is in such squirm that it failed to think it prudent to consult at least the leader of the Congress in the Assembly, who also is the Leader of Opposition, before appointing a Congress member in the five-member committee of MLAs. The Congress party will not oblige the government in this act of illicit dwarfing of supremacy of the Assembly, he has made clear on behalf of his party.

The other large Opposition Party – the BJP – has also withdrawn its member from the Committee, holding the creation thereof arbitrary and motivated.

Opposition ‘NO’ to the government created Committee is a strong slap on the face of Naveen Patnaik, who, after hoodwinking the voters in the name of his father – made legendary with concocted legends – has indulged in “MERI RAYA SAHASAN” (whimsical administration), to quote Prasad Harichaandan.

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