In a protest meeting held on Tuesday, 14 February 2012, the Media Unity for Freedom of Press ( MUFP ) has strongly condemned the move by Bhushan Steel Ltd, to implicate two Dhenkanal journalists in a case they have chosen to file against their striking workers. The company in its FIR has not only named Sri
Pradeep Senapati ( ETV ) and Sri Jayant Nath ( The Sambad ) who had gone to cover the workers’ strike as co-accused but also has mentioned them as media persons ! The MUFP has described this as a nasty and frontal attack on press freedom designed to terrorize and silence the media which has played a major role in exposing Bhushan’s blatant violations of environmental laws,exploitation of the local people as well as its miserable safety standards that have caused the death of over a hundred workers.
The MUFP has asked Bhushan Steel to withdraw the case filed against the two media persons with immediate effect failing which media persons across the state will be forced to launch a state-wide agitation. It also questioned the role of local police who had no qualms accepting the FIR that named two media persons in the list of accused.
While expressing solidarity with Sri Senapati and Sri Nath, the MUFP has warned private investors in the state against such black practices.
The MUFP has decided to send a 3-member delegation to Dhenkanal on a
fact-finding mission. The Committee will talk to all parties involved including the district administration and its final report will be submitted to the Governor of Odisha, the Speaker of the State Assembly, the Chief Minister, the Leader of Opposition as well as all MLAs during the budget session.
At the protest meeting which was attended by a large media delegation from Dhenkanal , Sri Pradeep Senapati of ETV and Sri Jayant Nath of the Sambad narrated their bitter experiences with the Bhushan Steel Ltd and the Dhenkanal police. Senior journalists and MUFP Presidium members Sri Prasanta Patnaik and Sri Rabi Das came down heavily on the steel company for their audacious attempt to implicate and harass journalists who refuse to sign along dotted lines. They also condemned the district administration for their alleged complicity in the matter and its failure to protect the rights and dignity of media persons engaged in their professional duty.