(A Note from noted Journalist Prasanta Patnaik)
Bhubaneswar, Sept. 22, 2009: Chief minister Naveen Patnaik today ordered a DIG-level probe into the arrest of journalist Laxman Choudhury by the Gajapti police on Sunday on charges of waging war against the State, and assured the delegation of journalists to ensure that justice will be done to Sri Chaudhury, at the earliest.
Choudhury, a reporter with Oriya daily Sambad in Mohana area of Gajapti district, was arrested along with a bus conductor on September 20 on allegations that a packet containing eight pieces Maoist leaflets , addressed to him was recovered from a bus conductor. Instead of locating the source from which the packet was dispatched, the police has falsely alleged that Shri Cahudhury had links with the Maoists and have booked him under criminal charges for waging war against the Government, sedition, criminal conspiracy, assisting Maoist activities.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik was visibly displeased and expressed his disagreement with the stand of the police on the arrested journalist. “It is ridiculous. Isn’t it,” he said when told about the charges against the arrested journalist. “We live in a free society. We live in a democracy. The press is a part of democracy,” he told the group of journalists led by senior journalist Prasant Patnaik at his office chamber in State Secretariat this afternoon.
On suggestions from his principal secretary that the deputy inspector general of police can probe the matter, Naveen directed that the matter be inquired as soon as possible.
The chief minister said he was reminded of his father who was jailed for 3 years during the freedom movement. “We are an independent country. Are n’t we,” he said.
Senior journalist Sampad Mohapatra of ND Tv, Ramesh Chandra Mohanty, Prasanna Mohanty, Secretary, National Union of Journalists and Debabrata Mohanty of New Indian Express were in the team of scribes who met and discussed with the Chief Minister and urged him to release Sri Laxman Chaudhury immediately and not to deal with any journalist in such disgraceful manner.