The members of Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP), who met under the ” Freedom Tree” on Tuesday, condemned in the strongest possible terms the unprovoked attack on fellow media persons by PG students of the MKCG Medical College in Berhampur on Monday and demands immediate identification and arrest of the culprits as well as strong action against the Berhampur SP for his dubious role in this entire episode. The MUFP also appeals to the editors and management of all news publications and channels in the state to express solidarity with the media persons and back their protest action with all their might.

Media persons were justly doing their duty as news gatherers while covering the ugly and shameful incident at the Medical College hospital where the aggrieved relatives of a person who allegedly died due to a doctor’s negligence were mercilessly attacked by a gang of MKCG medical college students. This unruly gang attacked the media persons, damaged their cameras and even allegedly looted their cash and other valuables including cameras for capturing their criminal act on record.

What is equally shocking is the manner in which the local police behaved. The attack on media persons took place in the presence of policemen who preferred to look the other way. The SP of Berhampur who has been making all kinds of tall claims about his efficiency refused to meet the media persons who were on a dharna in front of the Baidyanathpur police station, demanding action against those responsible for the assault on them. By doing so the SP has only confirmed the suspicion that he is on the side of the attackers.

MUFP calls upon all media persons, editors and management of all newspapers, TV channels and Web Media as well as all concerned citizens who believe in the freedom of the press to join hands to demand the immediate arrest of the culprits, action against the Berhampur SP and local police personnel for willful negligence and a strong legislation that prescribes stringent punishment for those who intimidate or assault media persons carrying out their news assignments.

MUFP notes with deep concern the sharp rise in the number of incidents of assaults on media persons on duty and apathetic attitude of the State Government towards the assaulters and warns the state government of a serious confrontation if immediate preventive and corrective steps are not taken to ensure free and fair reporting by the media.

It may be recalled that despite demand of MUFP for institution of a judicial probe headed by a retired judge of High Court to probe into the bloody attack on media persons inside Silicon Institute of Engineering and Technology, the State Government has so far not taken any action in this regard. Though the Chief Minister had assured us of a probe into the incident, his promise is only gathering dust. Similarly, Industry Minister, Sri Raghunath Mohanty’s so-called order for a high level Departmental probe into the incident has vanished into thin air.

The MUFP therefore demands that the Chief Minister and Minister for Industries update us about the status of their promises and the follow-up action taken at their end without any further delay.

A number of media persons representing the print , electronic and web media were present in the meeting. Among them were Subhas Chandra Pattanayak (Orissa Matters), Sampad Mohapatra (ND TV), Prasanta Patnaik ( India TV), Rabi Das ( Ama Rajadhani ), Manorajan Mishra (OTV),Gopal Mohapatra (Sambad ), Jajati Karan ( CNN-IBN), Sarat Paikray (ETV), Prafulla Das ( The Hindu ), Ramesh Chandra Mohanty, Subodh Panigrahi ( Naxatra TV ), Kedar Mishra ( Anupam Bharat ) and others.

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