Advance assassination of character is not becoming of Free Press

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

In what a media major has found a front page material today is an allegation against a top executive under the department of culture raised by a self-proclaimed victim of his deviance. In some other dailies, the matter has found inner-page posting.

The alleged victim has reportedly filed a complaint with the Baragarh Police Station, Bhubaneswar on November 24 which the latter has taken into cognizance. But the allegation, as reported by the media, does not speak of any current offence.

It is alleged by the victim that he has been working in Orissa Sahitya Academy since eight years and the officer concerned had been forcing him to serve at his residence in the night and subjecting him to sexual exploitation. As he had in resentment stopped going to his residence, he was threatened with dire consequences on October 24. This much the media that has preferred to circulate the news has reported.

Dependable sources in the Sahitya Academy say, the alleger is a hesitant worker and the officer concerned is too strict to accommodate any attempt to take office for granted. As confessed by the alleger, he was not a regular employee and hence recommendation of the officer concerned for regularization of his service was necessary. To the alleger’s apprehension, his regularization was impossible because it was not possible to hoodwink the officer on the steering. Therefore, Academy sources say, the mischief has been contrived.

Whether or not this aspect is correct, the fact is that an allegation of sexual exploitation is raised before the police and no investigation to find out the truth has yet begun. But the way the media has acted, the victim has become the officer against whom the allegation has been raised, that too, after lapse of every conceivable limits of time.

Had media acted responsibly, it should have preferred to wait till the Police find out if at all there was any prima-facie truth in the allegation. But without waiting, the Fourth Estate should have dug out as to how the alleger got his first assignment in the Academy and why for so many years preceding posting of the officer under question he was not regularized.

I regret to note, the media has acted most irresponsibly in the instant case.

The officer named in the media is a man who has given discipline and decorum to practice of administration in the Academy. His additional posting in the Utkal University of Culture has brought a total change to its academic environment. Had the Government been doing documentation of office management or were the media ever tried to keep eyes on such offices of cultural importance, this Officer should have come to be looked as an instance of dedication to work that changes offices from worst to best. But, because of rashness in media, this man having been named, has been thrashed into ignominy even before the allegation against him is investigated into.

In these pages, we have earlier stressed on the need of using medico-legal equipments such as lie-detectors to determine if the alleger is not telling the lie for settling scores with any disadvantageous one, specifically the boss.

In the instant case, we therefore stress, the Police should proceed from putting the alleger to polygraph. And the media should wait till lie-detector says that there is no lie in the allegation. Advance assassination of character is not becoming of Free Press.

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