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.