Samaja Sub-Editor tortured for reporting Assembly debate that mentioned of Pandian

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Sub-Editor Alok Kumar Pati of the Samaja is illegally transferred to Sambalpur from Bhubaneswar, as his faithful reporting of Assembly debates somewhat embarrassed the Chief Minister’s secretary V.K.Pandian, according to a section of journalists working in the paper.

Many ministers and senior officers regard Pandian as super chief minister and take his words as Naveen Patnaik’s.

Former minister and BJD heavyweight Pradeep Maharathy had an occasion to mention of him in course of a debate in the Assembly in the matter of the sexually tortured and extinguished teacher Itishree Pradhan who was in contract service at Tikri U.P. School, Rayagada, and whose life could have been saved had authorities starting from the school inspector to the chief minister, whom she had frantically begged for protection, should have paid her the minimum necessary ears.

An astute, yet aggressive politician, he mocked Pandian with the suffix – “Sir”. “Pandian Sir”. And dwelt on how ministers were taking instructions from him to tackle the bereaved family of the extinguished teacher.

Almost all newspapers datelined 10 December reported Maharathy’s speech. Samaja had assigned Assembly coverage to Pati. He reported how Pandian was mentioned as “Pandian Sir” by Maharathy. Whether Maharathy knows how Pandian reacted to this mocking is not known, but it seems the illegal occupiers of the Samaja newspaper reacted very sharply.

On seeing the news published in the Samaja, its Joint General Manager Priyabrata Mohanty threatened Pati with dire consequences for having put on records before the public how Maharathy made fun of Pandian. He issued verbal orders to Pati to explain as to why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for having mentioned Pandian in his report on Maharathy’s speech, when the Pipili MLA was mocking at Pandian by repeatedly naming him as “Pandian Sir”. And, instead of hearing him, he has issued the transfer order by wrongfully using the name of the Chairman, BOM.

There is no BOM of the Samaja. The senior most life member of Servants of the People Society, K. C. Tripathy, appointed by the Society President Onkar Chand as Member-in-Charge of Orissa branch is the employer under the Standing Orders of the Samaja. On contact, he informs that he has neither transferred Pati or holds him answerable for reporting Maharathy’s version. But, he said, the illegal occupiers of the Society have been continuously harassing the employees to keep them intimidated as otherwise it would be difficult for them to continue their loot of the funds of the paper and use its media power in their personal service.

Why Priyabrata Mohanty is affected if Pandian is mocked at by a MLA and the MLA’s speech making a fun of Pandian is reported in Samaja?

We may focus on this in a later stage. But the issues generated by the journalist’s transfer are pertinent and calling. They are:

Is it wrong for a journalist to honestly report a former minister’s version on the chief minister’s private secretary?

Is punishment imposed on a journalist for reporting a member’s speech not contemptuous of the member concerned and violative of the Assembly privileges when the same version has not been deleted from the records by the Speaker?

These issues ought to be cogitated upon.

And, the Speaker of Orissa Assembly should take cognizance of the 2nd issue in particular and issue a suo jure ruling on wether or not Mohanty’s action against Pati is an affront to Assembly sovereignty, if in his eyes, the Assembly has its privileges by extension over reported portion of its recorded debate.

And, let the Chief Minister take a look at why his party heavyweight Pradeep Maharathy thought it prudent to mock at his private secretary Pandian as “Pandian Sir” repeatedly in his speech in the Assembly, putting on records how ministers carrying his instructions.

We were the first to see a super chief minister in him and now media major Sambad has seen in him a super chief secretary. It is dangerous to the State if a super power center grows like wild grass in the secretariat of the chief minister. Let Sri Naveen Patnaik take not of it.

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