May Day had the best of celebration in Bhubaneswar as an exploited employee of Orissa’s premier daily ‘The Samaja’ Sri Gagan Parida launched a milestone book on forgery, corruption and exploitation of workers in the major news daily, the founders of which were the most revered humanitarian leaders known as Panchasakha of Satyabadi, headed by Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das.
The book is ‘Samaja in Maze of Forgery’. It is a compilation of articles of Journalist Subhas Chandra Pattanayak published in orissamatters.com. President of Utkalmani Newspaper Employees Association (UNEA), journalist Deviprasanna Nayak has compiled it.
The book has exposed how two former ministers of the State, one of who was the paper’s longest time editor, and being so, had bagged India’s third highest civilian honor – Padma Bhusana, had forged the Will of Utkalmani Pt. Gopabandhu Das to grab the ‘Samaja’ under cover of the Servants of the People Society (SoPS) and how since then the illegal occupiers of the renowned paper have been exploiting the workforce in blatant violation of industrial/labor laws by way of corrupting the State Administration and misusing the process of Law.
In introducing the book, author Subhas Chandra Pattanayak alleged that two former education ministers – Lingaraj Mishra and Radhanath Rath – had forged the Will of Pandit Gopabandhu to grab the Samaja under cover of the SoPS and had pushed the pride of Orissa – The JATIYA BANA VIDYALAYA to starvation death.
The book further exposes, he said, how a later editor of Samaja, Ms. Manorama Mahapatra, daughter of Radhanath Rath, had also forged the signature of a sub-editor to deny him his legitimate rank and salaries.
The book exposes how huge amount of rupees are swindled from the revenue of the Samaja by the Servants of the People Society, by using a forged Will of Gopabandhu and how the Registrar of Newspapers for India is sleeping over the allegation of ‘Save the Samaja Forum’, and how the District Judge office at Cuttack was used as a ‘breeding bed of forgery’ by the illegal occupiers of the Samaja.
The book is full of documentary evidences of the serious crimes committed by Radhanath Rath who was editor of the Samaja till his death and other two editors and members of the Servants of the People Society.
The book mentions how the workers are perishing under unfair labor practices, without getting regularized even after serving the major daily newspaper for more than 30 years, he said.
One such worker is Sri Gagan Parida. He has been pushed into instant termination of his thirty years long continuous service, the moment he urged upon the management to designate him as a regular employee so that he could draw the benefits available under the labor laws. Like him. About 20 persons who had been working everyday regularly for decades in hope of regularization of their services have been summarily dismissed as they wanted to be regularized.
Save the Samaja Forum (SSF) that has published the book preferred to launch the book in the hands of Parida as he is the man who has worked in the paper for the longest period without being regularized.
Held in Lohia Academy auditorium with joint convener of SSF, eminent journalist Prasanta Patnaik in the chair, the meeting was addressed by Subartta editor Pradyumna Satapathy, Samadrusti editor Sudhir Patnaik and eminent author and founder editor of Chithi, political scientist Prof. Biswaranjan.
Prof. Biswaranjan called upon the Government to initiate action against the SoPS and retrieve from it all the money it has taken from the Samaja revenue for revival of the Bana Vidyalaya, as suggested in the book, without any loss of time, as publication of the Will of Gopabandhu that the occupiers of the Samaja are using in all official forums along with the signed probated copy of the real Will, has established that the occupier of the Samaja have forged and have been using the forged Will of Gopabandhu.
Sri Sudhir Patnaik expressed absolute solidarity with SSF and demanded that in view of the exposure, the State Government should take prompt action against the miscreants and stop the Samaja from being further looted by unauthorized people.
A single moment should not be lost, roared Sri Pradyumna Satapathy, in punishing the fellows that have evidently forged the Will of Gopabandhu and have swindled till date the revenue of the paper, while keeping the employees intimidated under hire and fire policy. He expressed total solidarity with the SSF in the noble cause and warned the intellectuals of the state that future will not pardon if despite publication of the irrefutable evidences of forgery, they stay silent spectators. He called upon the State Government to wake up to the occasion and save the icon paper of the State, founded by the noblest of noble souls like Utkalmani Gopabandhu and is four friend collectively famous as the Panchasakhas of Satyabadi.
Felicitations were offered to two great fighters from amongst the workers of the Samaja. They are Sahid Ramesh Chandra Patnaik and Sangrami Pitambar Mishra.
Sahid Ramesh Chandra Patnaik was summarily dismissed after putting up two decades long service without any allegation or charges. The labor officer had recommended his case for adjudication in the Industrial Tribunal. But, misusing media power, the government was dissuaded to refer his case to the tribunal. Industrial Disputes Act stipulates that no labor court of Industrial Tribunal can take cognizance of an Industrial Dispute unless referred to by the Government. Thus disadvantaged, Patnaik had gone to civil court that found the action of the management illegal. But instead of acting an ideal employer, the management knocked down the case in the Orissa High Court and forced the poor worker to seek justice, if he could, in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court struck down the High Court order and awarded a sum of Rs.2,000,00/- to be paid by the management within two months. But by then, Patnaik had passed away under slow starvation. To his co-workers, he became a martyr in the long battle for justice. So, on the occasion, he was felicitated posthumously. On his behalf, President of Cuttack District Journalists Association, Lalatendu Senapati received the felicitation.
The second worker to be felicitated was Journalist Pitambar Mishra. He was a sub-editor whom without issuing any appointment letter, the management was using in reporting the evening and night city of Cuttack, over and above his desk job in daytime. After putting up eleven years of service, when he prayed to be regularized as a sub-editor in which rank he was originally engaged, he was summarily dismissed. His case, however, was referred to the Labor Court, Bhubaneswar. But, the management challenged the maintainability of the case under the plea that he was not an employee of the Samaja. The management, to the horror of Mishra, produced an agreement in a stamp paper where Mishra’s relation with Samaja was “principal to principal”, not employee to employer. Ms. Manorama Mohapatra had signed the agreement on first part and Mishra was shown to have signed it as the second part. Mishra challenged it as a forged agreement produced by the management to deny him his dues. His disputed signature was sent by the Court to the State Handwriting Expert and Forensic investigation established that Mishra’s signature was forged. With such clear evidence of forgery committed by the management, the reference went in favor of Mishra and because by then he had exceeded the superannuation age. Instead of ordering for his reinstatement, the Court commuted his legitimate dues and asked the management to pay the same immediately. But, the habitually litigant management has challenged the Labor Court award in the High Court, forcing Mishra to suffer starvation. The SSF, therefore, decided to felicitate Mishra for the fighting spirit he has displayed against exploitation by the powerful media house.
From the audience, strong supports were expressed with Tusarkant, a known conscience-keeper who shares his original thinking with the society writing prolifically in the media, stressing upon speedy but planned action against the wrongdoers.
President of Utkalmani Newspaper Employees Association, well-known desk-journalist Devi Prasanna Nayak detailed how internecine rivalry amongst the members of SoPS, which has evidently kept the Samaja under unauthorized occupation, has demoralized the workers and how the dedicated employees of the Samaja have been subjected to concocted cases and stage-managed enquiries and illegal dismissals.
President Sri Prasanta Patnaik announced that the SSF shall stand with the employees of the Samaja in their battle against exploitation and called upon the Government to initiate penal action against members of SoPS who are yet using the forged Will of Gopabandhu for their personal and collective benefit. The SSF campaign shall continue till SoPS is ousted from ownership of Samaja and the paper of the people is retrived from illegal ownership. He thanks the employees of the Samaja for their principled fight and called upon all labor unions to stand with the employees of the Samaja in their days of stark disadvantage. He called upon the RNI to peruse the exposure of forgery made in the released book of Subhas Pattanayak and deregister immediately the SoPS as owner of the Samaja.
Coordinator of SSF Pabitra Mohan Maharatha coordinated the event.