Is there any justice for the murdered journalist? Orissa should be ashamed of its pusillanimity

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

A month has elapsed. As ORISSA MATTERS had put it, the killers had found the Police Station area in Khalikote in the home district of the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik quite a safe place to commit the crime. Journalist Tarun Acharya was killed coldblooded by the terminators of human rights in the evening of May 27. But, Police that was sleeping then, is in slumber as yet.

It was a brutal assault on Press. Neither the Chief Minister in whose district this crime was perpetrated, nor the Opposition in the Assembly whom every moment to find fault with administration is a golden opportunity, have woke up to the occasion to shade even their meretricious tears on the loss of the precious life. Neither any politician worth his salt has condemned the murder nor has the Eastern Media Limited that was using his input to gain more audience stood even posthumously with the man, lest thereby his employment with the flagships of the organization may raise complicated labor issues.

In such a circumstances, eminent journalist and leader of Media Unity for Freedom of Press, Prasanta Patnaik has issued a statement appealing the conscience of everybody who loves democracy to react to this dastardly attack on the fourth pillar of democracy. We quote below his statement –

A month has passed since the brutal murder of our journalist friend TARUN ACHARYA of Khallikote in Ganjam district. Despite the demands of media persons through various journalist bodies and MEDIA UNIT FOR FREEDOM OF PRESS (MUFP) for arrest of all involved in this crime and to take exemplary steps by trying all the accused persons in the First Track Courts and giving adequate compensation to the next of kin of Tarun, s far the State Government has not taken any action.

Very strangely our popular Chief Minister Mr Naveen Patnaik and none from the Government have condemned the brutal murder nor have expressed sympathy to the bereaved family including his young widow, old parents and other family members.

It is a clear attack on the freedom of press in Orissa none of our political leaders including the leader of opposition have so far raised voice in the Assembly which is presently on session. None of the Civil Society bodies, intellectuals, women and youth organizations has also raised voice against such heinous attack on the Fourth Pillar of Democracy.

While only two persons allegedly involved in the crime have been arrested others have not been arrested and the police have not been able to reach at the root of the conspiracy and find out the persons really responsible for the crime.

Tarun, though was working for the SAMBAD and KANAK TV and his reports on the cashew mafia in these media is said to be the real cause behind his murder so far the management of this media house have not come forward to claim that Tarun was their reporter nor have taken any step strikingly condemning the brutal killing of a brave Journalist like Tarun Acharya.

I therefore appeal to all the media persons irrespective organizations they are working for and professional organizations to which they belong to join their hands and strongly fight against such threat to media persons in Orissa.

I also appeal to all professional bodies and MEDIA UNIT FOR FREEDOM OF PRESS (MUFP), all the editors, management of Media Houses to express their solidarity for this great cause of Orissa media and press their legitimate demands.

Friends who agree with my views may kindly send their suggestions at the earliest so that we can organize a meeting of all media friends working in print, electronic, web and visual media etc. to finalize our future course of action.

Chief Minister’s home district: Killer finds Police Station area safe for the crime

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The District belongs to the Chief Minister. The department of home (Police) belongs to the Chief Minister. Like all other Police Stations in the District, Khalikote PS is also equipped with carefully chosen Police Officers worthy of confidence of the Chief Minister.

Yet, the killer(s) slaughtered media person Tarun Acharya in the early night of Tuesday sans any fear for the Police even though the PS was in the proximity.


Acharya, only 34, was reportedly investigating into certain acts of felony, which could have become very problematic for the rogues.

Whether or not those rogues have murdered Acharya, the fact that a journalist could be killed so cold-bloodedly on the road nearing the PS, speaks volumes of how the environment there has become congenial to crime.

Various organizations of media persons including Media Unity for Freedom of Press have expressed solidarity with and demanded compensation to the bereaved family and punishment to the killer(s) without loss of time.

SCB Medical College must not be allowed to remain a den of vices

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The rowdy medical students of SCB Medical College, who were on strike since arrest of one of them for having instigated and led a gang of fellow students to torture two of the Cuttack based journalists in wrongful confinement in their hostel, have withdrawn their strike after the SCBMC superintendent put a ban on normal entry of journalists into its campus for news purpose.

In an office-order issued on June 28, the Superintendent has directed that “no doctor or official is authorized to give any bite or news both to electronic & print media”, while prohibiting media representatives from entering into various parts of the institute without his prior permission.

The arrested medico, engaged in medicine ward, was instigating a patient to shift to nephrology ward, even though he was never a nephrology case. His pathological tests that the medicine ward had routinely conducted had shown that his urea creatinine level was normal and he had no problem with the kidneys. But the medico was insisting that he should be shifted to nephrology ward where his kidneys could be tested. The daughter of the old man was not agreeing with the medico to shift her father to the nephrology wing as she was smelling a rat; because, her father was not diagnosed on the basis of investigations to be a case for nephrology and because the medico was insisting upon shifting her father to nephrology ward behind the back of the treating professor and unit head of medicine, and further because, kidney is an organ that gets stolen by the needing rich through the doctors in treating hospitals. The medico was seen intimidating her. The journalist in question being the son of the patient on coming to know of the matter apprised the professor and unit head of this, who instantly rushed to the spot, asked the indoor patients of the ward about the happening and allegation well corroborated by fellow patients, shifted the concerned medico to another duty room immediately. This irritated the medico. So, as the journalist was sure to come to see his ailing father again, the concerned medico kept a gang of medicos organized to teach the journalist a lesion. When the next day the journalist came, another fellow journalist had accompanied him to have a in-depth investigation into the motive of the medico behind insistence to shift the patient from general medicine to nephrology ward behind back of the professor and unit head. The lurking medicos jumped over them and whisked away them into a wrongful confinement in a hostel and inhumanly tortured them for hours. Sadly, the police IIC having arrived in the campus on a SoS message from the tortured journalist, remained a passive onlooker and later, while dillydallying to act on the journalists’ FIR, was seen entertaining the accused medicos in his chamber and accommodating their counter FIR. As the IIC paid a deaf ear to the grievances of the two media men, the scribes and photo-journalists of Cuttack led a protest rally to police headquarters and sumbitted a memorandum seeking stern action against the miscreant medicos as well as against the IIC, Mangalabag for siding with the miscreants. They were assured of appropriate action against the miscreant medicos and the IIC for dereliction in duty.

Against this backdrop, the SCBMC superintendent has issued the mischievous order.

The order is very shrewdly worded which de jure does not appear like a ban order, but imposes a de facto ban. It says, “media representatives both electronic and print shall be allowed to enter into the O.P.D./Casualty/Wards etc only after obtaining permission from the superintendent”. To some, the expression shall be allowed to enter with permission is not the same as shall not be allowed without permission. So, to them, the order in question has a positive line. But in reality, it is a mischief against freedom of press designed to keep unethical and illegal medical practice going on unabated in the college hospital hidden from public knowledge.

That, the averment that “media representatives ……. shall be allowed to enter into the O.P.D./Casualty/Wards etc only after obtaining permission from the superintendent” is a ploy to escape criticism for stymieing free press, is established by the Sambad in its report of July 01 as it has exposed how the so-called permission to its man was granted long 7 hours after formal request on June 30.

So the views that making superintendent’s permission a prerequisite for media persons to enter into the SCBMC campus is not obstructive to freedom of press is not acceptable.

On the other hand, in a signed editorial on June 30, captioned “Dhik Tama Hitlery Shasan” (Fie your Hitlerian rule), editor of the Samaja Sri Gopal Mohapatra has shown how SCBMC has become a den of vices and deliberate negligence to poor patients; and how its maladies have attracted governmental intervention after being exposed in media leading to correction of its wrongs, which without exposure in the Press could have continued to affect the patients under habitual nonchalance of the authorities or under pretense of professional aloofness of the doctors.

In this splendid editorial seldom seen in mainstream media in Orissa, Sri Mohapatra has rightly termed the ban as a crude attempt to keep medical maladies under cover for ever.

How media has made the medical authorities wake up to needs of treatment and nursing is discernible in hundreds of published reports. As for example, in August 2011, when hundreds of Dengue patients were perishing in SCBMC without care on its corridors, the authorities had to confess their lapses and organize beds and nursing materials that had saved hundreds of lives after being exposed in the media.

“There was some problem regarding infrastructure, but everything has been sorted out now. We have taken measures to open the special dengue ward. Arrangements have been made for an adequate number of mosquito nets and beds for the patients and even doctors have been assigned for the ward, It will start functioning from Friday” the superintendent had stated (Times of India, August 19, 2011).

Had the press not exposed the malady, no correctional steps could have commenced and hundreds of people could have died of dengue.

And, this malady could not have been spotted and focussed had the journalists been denied free access to the SCBMC campus.

Exposure of their misdeeds by media has always been irritant to the black sheep in SCBMC. The present restriction on entry of journalists to its campus is propelled by irritation over exposure of medical misdeeds.

The affected journalists, whose professional entitlement to have access to source of information is so very severely infringed upon by the SCBMC superintendent, could have entered into the campus en mass in protest against the wrongful order; but instead of that, they have rightly met the central RDC in a huge delegation on July 01 seeking his administrative intervention.

We earnestly hope, the RDC will appreciate this good gesture of journalists and use his position to ensure that the rowdy medicos are disciplined and the premier medical college is made available to media’s free access in order not to remain a den of vices that a few miscreants amongst medical community have turned it to at the moment.

At the same time Cuttack journalists’ allegation that Mangalabag IIC is protecting the miscreant medicos needs be investigated into and action be taken against him sans any delay if he is found prima facie guilty of the mischief.

This is essential, because the SCB Medicall College must no more be allowed to remain a den of vices.

Scribes stress on action against rowdy medicos and IIC of Mangalabag P.S.

Cuttack based scribes belonging to both the print and electronic media, in a signed memorandum to Orissa’s Director General of Police today stressed on action against medicos who kidnapped two reporters of Naxatra News from the medicine indoor of SCB Medical College on June 15 and tortured them in wrongful confinement for more than two hours. They also demanded stern action against the inspector-in-charge of Police of Mangalabag PS for discernible siding with the rowdy medicos.

DSC_0356

Members of the presidium of Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) Prasanta Patnaik and Subhas Chandra Pattanayak and coordinator of Save the Samaja Forum Pabitra Maharatha accompanied the aggrieved scribes in a major rally to Police headquarters. In absence of the DGP, the memorandum was received by Additional DGP Mr. Sanjib Marik.

tortured journalist briefs the ADGP

The tortured scribes, Chittaranjan Samantray and Debasis Mohanty gave a detail description of how they were shanghaied into wrongful confinement in a hostel of the medical college by a gang of around a hundred medical students and interns and physically tortured. They were forced to kneel down for hours and then forced to proceed to the same medicine indoor for begging apology before the indoor patients before whom on June 14 they had raised objections to what the house surgeons had said about the father of Samantray.

Samantray’s father was admitted into the medicine ward for treatment. The house surgeons pronounced that the senior Samantray had developed damage in both his kidneys and insisted that he should be shifted to a private hospital. Samantray was shocked, because no pathological investigation had indicated about any damage to the kidneys and he protested. This irked the house surgeons and they started rebuking him in filthy language. An embarrassed and shocked Samantray tried to capture the highly atrocious conduct of the medicos; but obstructed, he went to the unit head and professor of medicine, Dr. Siddharth Das and placed before him his grievances. Dr. Das rushed to the spot and investigated into the matter and as all co-patients of the indoor ward corroborated the allegations raised by Samantray, asked the errant medicos not to work in the same ward. This further irritated the medicos.

When next day, June 15, he had come to attend his father, his co-reporter Debasis had also come with him to meet the professor in his indoor chamber in matter of his ailing mother. Seeing them in the indoor corridor, the miscreant medicos jumped on them and whisked them away into the hostel, where they were kept in wrongful confinement and tortured.

The gory part of the incident is that the IIC of Mangalabag Mr. Shariffudin having come to the spot on SOS message from the affected scribe remained a silent spectator of the torture and willfully neglected to register the FIR filed by them and was later seen entertaining the miscreant medicos in his chamber and registering a parallel FIR filed by them in order to create a confusion in course of criminal justice dispensation.

memorandum

About 50 scribes, while collectively presenting their Memorandum, informed the ADGP that the same IIC is terrorizing them and urged upon him to investigate into his conduct and discipline him. Besides the two victims of medico-police atrocity, the memorialists included, amongst others, Pradip Sahu,Navdeep Das,Cittaranjan Mishra, Satchidanand Behera, Gopal Mohapatra, Matrudatta Mohanty,Prasanta Mohanty, Jyotiprakash Rao, Bikash Sharma, Abhi Mohanty, Amardev Nayak, Rajkishore Panda, Pratap Chandra Sahoo, Devi Prasanna Khuntia, Rajkishore Mohanty, Ch. Jagannath Patra, Satyajit Mishra, Saroj Kumar Mallik,Ajaya Kumar Das, Pabitra Maharatha, Prasanta Patnaik and Subhas Chandra Pattanayak.

The ADGP has assured to take suitable action in the matter and expeditiously.

MUFP DEMANDS UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF AMITABH PATRA AND ARREST OF COPS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BRUTAL ATTACK AGAINST THE JOURNALIST

under the freedom tree

The Media Unity for Freedom of Press ( MUFP) today staged a protest demonstration under the Freedom Tree near Jaidev Bhawan against the brutal police attack on a television journalist Amitabh Patra while he was covering the local agitation at Dunguripali in Lower Suktel project area in Bolangir on the 29th of May.

Sri Patra who is now receiving treatment at the Burla medical college hospital is still in police custody because he has been arrested on false charges that he was inciting the protesters ! The visuals captured by local media persons shows clearly how he was targeted by a group of policemen who beat him black and blue with lathis and kept kicking him even when he had fallen on the ground.

The MUFP has demanded immediate and unconditional release of Amitabh Patra as well as the identification and arrest of the police officials who were involved in the attack that left him with serious head injury. The media body has also demanded payment of compensation for or replacement of Sri Patra’s damaged video camera.

MUFP has strong reasons to believe that Sri Patra was targeted because he was recording the barbaric manner in which the police were beating up the peaceful protesters including young women with his camera. His camera was smashed before he was roughed up by a group of men in khaki who were reportedly drunk.

MUFP has threatened to resort to state-wide agitation if Amitabh Patra is not released unconditionally and no action taken against the policemen responsible for the brutal attack on him.

Over 30 scribes and photographers led by senior journalists Prasanta Patnaik and Rabi Das participated in today’s protest.

MUFP Warns Ruling Politicians of Consequences of Attack on Media

Journalists of Print, Web, Tv and Camera streams congregated under the now famous ‘Freedom Tree’ in front of the State Information Center (Jaydev Bhawan) Bhubaneswar at noon on Thursday  to condemn the rising attack on Press by ruling party leaders at different part of Orissa, specifically, attack on a media person Ashok Mohapatra , Correspondent of Khabara daily at Nischinta Koili ,  by mass education minister Pratap Jena, threat of dire consequences hurled at media men by MLA of Dasapalla, criminal
intimidation resorted to by ex-minister Pramila Mallik against Debendra Samal and chasing out journalist by the concerned collector from the venue of talk of labor laws implementation authority with Jindal steel management in the context of mass unrest generated by anti-people conduct of the industrial giant

Even as Sri Samal narrated the ordeal he has been subjected to by Ms. Mallick, MUFP congregation warned the ruling party politicians that if they remain such filthy to Press, the media would, henceforth, be constrained to think it proper to treat them as civilized persons deal with the filth. It would not be good for democracy and hence, the ruling politicians, whose primary responsibility should have been addressed to democracy, must desist from attacking the Press, the MUFP said.

It called upon the Chief Minister to look at these fresh attacks on Press and discipline his followers – the MLAs and the Minister as named above.

The MUFP demonstration was attended, among others, by Prasanta Patnaik, Rabi Das, Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, Sampad Mahapatra, D.N. Singh, Rabipriya Dash, Pramod Samantara, Lambodar Prasad Dash, Ramesh Mohanty, Lingaraj Panda and Sanjay Subudhi.

MUFP Condemns Attack on Media Persons in Chhendipada and Demands Immediate Arrest of Attackers and Compensation to the Affected Scribes

Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) condemns the brutal attack on media persons who were deliberately targeted by a mob during the public hearing for the Mahaguj colliery at Chhendipada in Anugul district on Thursday. According to eye-witness accounts and newspaper reports, media persons who were covering the violence that erupted during the public hearing were beaten up mercilessly with iron rods and cameras of video journalists were either smashed or snatched away by a section of the angry villagers who were responsible for the violent incidents. Sangram Keshari Nath, reporter for MBC TV and web news portal Odishadiary.com, was specifically singled out and he has sustained serious injuries. The 3-CCD video camera he was using to record the event was also snatched away from him. The mob which set the public hearing camp on fire also did not spare the local MLA who was heckled and beaten up.

Media persons in Anugul have reacted sharply to the deliberate attack on fellow journalists and have demanded strong action against the accused people. They have also come down heavily on the district administration which had failed to deploy sufficient police force, although it was aware of the explosive situation on the ground.

The dangerous trend of attacks on journalists on duty by the police, administrative officers, politicians and anti-social elements is a matter of grave concern to all freedom-loving people. Such attacks have certainly posed a serious threat to the freedom of media persons to report the truth as well as their lives and properties .

MUFP expresses its solidarity with the fellow media persons who were attacked, demands the immediate identification and arrest of the accused people and adequate compensation for the loss and damage of their equipment.

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