Oriya Newspaper ‘The Samaja’ under illegitimate ownership; RNI silent! What next!

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI) was informed by ‘Save The Samaja Forum’ (SSF) founded by a section of senior journalists and admirers of Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das of Orissa, that, the Oriya daily newspaper ‘The Samaja’ is being published under illegitimate ownership, which the Press Laws do not countenance. SSF had specifically alleged that Servants of the People Society (SoPS) has been claiming ownership over the paper by forging a Will of Gopabandhu, which the RNI should investigate into and take appropriate action. The RNI is silent. It has not informed the SSF about what happened to its speaking allegation.

Before proceeding further, it would be better to mention why The Samaja deserves RNI intervention.

The truth about The Samaja is that, it has become a substandard newspaper with no adherence to ethics of journalism. Yet it is the most important newspaper for the general public of Orissa, because this is the paper that Pandit Gopabandhu Das had established.

People of Orissa have never forgotten his selfless humanitarian services to his helpless countrymen when Orissa had lost its identity under the British rule and was being plundered by non-Oriya communities of neighboring provinces working as native servants of the invaders.

People of Orissa revere him for ever; and when any of them finds any cash to spare, he / she usually prefers to donate it to the Samaja for use in relief to the disadvantaged people, as Gopabandhu had dedicated his life to provide relief to the uncared for victims of natural and man-made calamities. Hence, despite its degradation to a low standard, Samaja has remained a very unique newspaper.

Forgery and loot

This unique newspaper is under illegal occupation of SoPS that has captured it by forging a Will of Gopabandhu.

A gang of its life-members have been looting the Samaja. As we have already exposed in these pages, an enquiry committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge – Arijit Pasayat. – has also determined that the hoodlums have swindled the Samaja funds through fraudulent means. A case of misappropriation of huge sums of money in which SoPS top brass Manubhai Patel is involved is pending in a criminal court for several years, as the Samaja management does not want the truth to come out. The High Court of Orissa has issued specific direction to Orissa’s Director General of Police to act on allegations of misappropriation and misuse of the Samaja funds by the SoPS gang, which the DGP could normally never have dared to ignore. But, as the Chief Minister is gained over by the gang, the Police Chief has no guts to initiate criminal action against the miscreants.

Save the Samaja campaign

After this reporter exposed how SoPS has been using a forged Will of Gopabandhu to keep the Samaja under its grip, a body called ‘Save the Samaja Forum’ with Subhas Chandra Pattanayak and Prasanta Patnaik as joint conveners, has started a campaign to salvage “The Paper of the People of Orissa” from the illegal occupation of SoPS.

This forum has asked the RNI to enquire into the matter and take necessary action as the Law does not permit publication of a newspaper under illegitimate ownership.

The RNI had authorized the Additional District Magistrate of Cuttack to enquire into the matter and report. After sleeping over around a year, and on being informed that a writ petition has been filed in the Orissa High Court against his inaction in the matter, the ADM tried to expedite the investigation. But he has closed the enquiry midway under pressure from the Chief Minister, as the SoPS miscreants have pledged pages of the paper to his propaganda. SSF has informed this mischief to the RNI; but no communication in the matter has been received from that end.

There have been silent black flag rallies seeking official action against black deeds of illegal occupiers of the Samaja and the public have been addressed by SSF in its campaign to save the Samaja from the looters attired as life-members of SoPS.

ORISSA MATTERS has shown how the people loyal to Gopabandhu refused to associate with the SoPS hoodlums in offering oblations to him on his death anniversary. It would be an affront to the sacred memories of the great humanitarian leader if killers of his spirit and hijackers of his paper were co-operated with, they thought.

Nervous attempt to counter SSF

So, sure that people of Orissa will not cooperate with them in countering the impact of SSF campaigns, the looters of The Samaja, ganged up in SoPS, had to take shelter under the Chief Minister under pledge of pages of the paper to his political propaganda; following which, the CMO had issued oral instructions to various field officials to help these fellows project their legitimacy before the public. Yet, they could not dare to go to the people directly to show them their devotion to Gopabandhu.

Panic hiring of event managers

A private organization of event management namely Sanket was hired for around a crore of rupees to organize, on their behalf, shows of devotion to Utkalmani with a vehicle styled Gopabandhu Jyoti Rath carrying some of the SoPS hoodlums.

They held a meeting with the event manager of Sanket on 13 August 2013 and drew up a route chart for the “Rath”. Accordingly, the show began at Jagatsinghpur on August 16, 2013 and proceeded day by day seriatim to repeat the farce at Kendrapada, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Balasore, Baripada, Kendujhar, Deogarh, Sundargarh, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Bargarh, Balangir, Nuapada, Bhawanipatna, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Paralakhemundi, Chhatrapur, Phulbani, Boudh, Sonepur, Nayagarh, Khurda, Puri, Dhenkanal, Anugul, Bhubaneswar and finally, Cuttack on 15 September 2013. They did not dare to visit the Sayabadi Bakula Bana where Gopabandhu had established his famous Vana Vidyalaya, for preservation and improvement of which he had made over the Satyabadi Press to SoPS in his last testament.

In this Will, Gopabandhu had given only the Satyavadi Press to SoPS, but not the Samaja, as it was co-founded by Satyavadi Panchasakha. But to Radhanath Rath and Lingaraj Mishra, and also to SoPS with which both of them were in nexus, the Samaja was considered a better source of income and a platform of power. So, when Radhanath Rath had suppressed the Will he had taken dictation of and in nexus with Lingaraj Mishra had manufactured a forged Will mostly for his own benefit, the SoPS had located that in the said manufactured Will, only the Satyavadi Press, not the Samaja, was given to it. Therefore, having taken over the Satyavadi Press as per the Will before them, they must have insisted upon inclusion of the Samaja in the property they were to capture. Therefore, situations might have been created to obtain a certified copy of the Will with mention of the Samaja as given to SoPS along with the Satyavadi Press. Attempts were made to create a copy of the already probated forged Will to match this plan. We, therefore, see that the words “ while the Samaja making over the charge of the Satyavadi Press to the Servants of the People Society” recorded in the preserved probated (forged) Will, were attempted to be replaced with the words “while making over charge of the Satyavadi Press and the Samaja to the Servants of the People Society” in the typed copy to be certified. At the stage of signing the certified copy of the Will, the magistrate concern located the manipulation and saved the document from being tampered with. Then, that certified copy of the original Will was discarded and another copy was forged, which is, without being certified, is in use by the SoPS, blatantly cheating the official forums including the RNI.

Secret mission of miscreants

With SSF harping on about the forgery, over and above the aforesaid two steps, SoPS has taken a third step in the escape route. A pack of illegitimate occupiers of the Samaja has visited the room called Gopabandhu’s Sathighara,where he was born in village Suando and tried to gain over members of his family by offering to build up residential houses for every branch thereof and to engage in the Samaja any member of the family branches if he/she has or will be having any qualification in journalism. This is a very serious syndrome and the hooligans must not be allowed to play this act of bribing to Gopabandu’s heirs, so that the forged Will shall stay beyond being challenged by anybody even remotely related to Gopabandhu.

Unless the RNI acts on the allegation raised by SSF, it would be difficult to save The Samaja from the swindlers and forgers.

But, the RNI is silent. What next!

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