Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The Police seldom act against the Press in a democracy as both of them usually supplement each other in locating and isolating anti-social elements and act as watchdogs of people’s interest in their respective sphere. Only when the political boss instigates, the Police take a different turn.

Political boss may be the Chief Minister of a State or the Prime Minister of the Country or may be a local hoodlum whom Police knows as a ruling party heavyweight, basking under powers of the CM or the PM.

Sometimes, quite rarely, some of the crooks somehow having made their way into the Police organization, fidgeting over exposure of their misdeeds, contrive ways to harass the reporters whom they suspect or spot to have stripped them, like the one recently witnessed in Laxman Choudhury case. Otherwise, unless the political boss instigates, the Police usually stays friendly to Press.

Extracts from Aromv, as you see it here, describes how its reporter and photographer were debarred from covering the 15th National Youth Festival at Bhubaneswar, with the excess exceeding limits to embarrass a lady reporter as she has narrated.

We have already published the Statement of Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) that condemns the alarming highhandedness resorted to against selected scribes on duty by some well placed officers of Bhubaneswar Police Commissionerate.

The Aromv scribes, Chandan Paikray and Tikan Mishra, subjected to Police highhandedness at Kalinga Stadium have narrated that the concerned Inspector – IIC, Sahidnagar – had told them sans qualms that in obstructing them he was merely carrying out the orders of the Commissioner.

As far as available information suggests, the Police Commissioner had no personal grudge to settle against the concerned journalists or against Aromv. Why then should he have wanted the Aromv Journalists debarred from covering the national event?

Even as the Police Commissioner or his mouthpiece has not yet countered the open allegation, the question that hunts is: Did the Police act against the Aromv journalists under instigation of its political boss? The ethical norm of Police conduct vis-à-vis the Press as discussed supra makes the question clamant.

Political Power Center acts against the Press only when fear of exposure maddens it into the greasy tactics of silencing Press through intimidation.

On this premise, it may be assumed that the coming days may see umpteen tussles between the wayward Power and the principled Press in the State of Orissa.

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