Mainstream Editor Hired and Fired: Servants of People Society Suspected of Unfair Practice


Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Chandrabhanu Patnaik, who was hired as editor of ‘The Samaja’ a couple of months ago, has been fired in the mean time behind back of the readers, making it once again clear that freedom of Press in Orissa is in danger, as plutocracy has kept our polity vitiated with an environment of money-owners’ hegemony.

Either loss of faith in labor law implementation machinery or aversion to litigations has kept Patnaik mum as yet, but his thwarting from The Samaja has alarmed the entire segment of journalists employed in this conservative but mainstream newspaper.

‘The Samaja’, established by Pundit Gopabandhu Das (Utkalmani) was reportedly willed away by him to the Servants of the People Society hereinafter called the Servants Society, founded by Lala Lajpat Rai.

Once upon a time it had emerged as the most circulated daily of Orissa. But since long, it has emerged as a corruption joint from where top functionaries have gone even to jails under charges of misappropriation and other heinous crimes involving property and sex.

The Servants Society was formed with the feeling that amateur and holiday politicians could not do justice to their work and to their country; and that the country’s greatest need was a number of whole-time national workers pledged to a life of poverty and sacrifice. Therefore it was founded “as a nucleus for the training of selected young men for social and political service”.

Its present bosses have clandestinely killed this basic objective.

The Servants Society was inaugurated on 9 November 1921. Lalaji was arrested on 3 December 1921 and sent to prison. In a letter from the prison “to the young men who had been initiated into the society” he had said, “The freedom of the country and her progress depends on the purity of motive, the loyalty and the spirit of sacrifice of her political workers”. Therefore, like Medical College provides education to would be doctors or Law College to would be lawyers, the Servants Society’s “Tilak School of Politics has been started to train up those who would work in the political field”, he had said and had subsequently gone up to formulating the curriculum of this political school.

Inspired by this noble and farsighted program of Lalaji, Utkalmani, founder of then Orissa’s famous institute of patriotic learning – the Satyavadi School – had joined the Society. After his death, the Society has usurped The Samaja by strength of a document purported to be his will.

But Utkalmani’s sacrifice seems to have gone in vain.

The Servants Society is running schools from Balwadies to Senior Secondary level with government grants and profuse funds collected from various sources, the Samaja as well as the students at Delhi; Allahabad, Kanpur (U.P.), Hoshiarpur, Dhudike, Fatehgarh Panjtoor (Punjab) and Vadodra (Gujarat). But, no institute “for the training of selected young men for social and political service”, which was its basic objective any more exists in its list of institutions.

Curiously, the Samaja stands in its list of activities as “political”, as if this is the forum for imparting training in politics conceived by Lalaji!

According to the Servants Society, “About 80% of the net profit of The Samaja is spent for the welfare activities of the people of Orissa by way of extending stipend to needy students, by helping the patients and victims of natural calamities and through miscellaneous charity and donations. A large amount goes to the Gopabandhu Institute of Medical Science and Research which is in the verge of completion at Athgarh, Orissa”.

Net profit of the paper is not known to the public. Not even to the journalists employed by it, whose salaries in wage board terms depend on net revenue earned by the newspaper. Not to the authorities, whose duty is to collect levy for Press Council of India from the newspaper on the basis of its income. So, the claim that 80% of its net profit is spent for welfare activities of the people of Orissa is not a stable claim. So also the claim of “a large amount” going to its Athgarh institute has no credibility as no particular amount is specified.

The Samaja is severely lacking in transparency in its income and expenditure under the management of Servants Society as the net statement shows.

Its conduct in respect to Chandrabhanu Patnaik shows further lack of transparency in the matter of personnel management.

Chandrabhanu was appointed as the editor by virtue of his success in the interview conducted for the purpose. That was notified to the readers of the Samaja. And, he had steered the newspaper into a journalistically better horizon within a very short span of time. But the management has fired him and that he has been fired is not notified to the readers.

Unceremonious dismissal of an editor in medieval manners in 2010 by an organization that claims the legacy of Lalaji and Utkalmani is not at all tenable, specifically when the paper had entered into a new era of newsworthiness under his stewardship.

In public perception, he is a victim of caste conspiracy. The Servants Society, owner of the Samaja, as far as Orissa is concerned, is running under three Brahmins, two of who, Kishore Chandra Tripathy and Ms. Manorama Mohapatra are life members and one, Niranjan Rath is a life worker. The entire organization has 32 numbers of “important Life Members” since the day of its inception. When Lalaji is shown in the 1st position in the list being admitted as a member in 1921, Tripathy, admitted in 1965 occupies serial number 26 and Ms. Mohapatra, admitted in 1985 is at serial number 31. Besides Pt. Gopabandhu Das at serial number 6 (admitted in 1926) the other Oriyas in the list are Radhanath Rath, serial number 12 with admission in 1928 and Biswanath Dash, serial number 18 with admission in 1959. Niranjan Rath is not a life member, but a life worker. When, as such, in Orissa, the Servants Society has been monopolized by the people of Brahmin caste, Chandrabhanu Patnaik is Karan by caste and hence, his joining as editor of the Samaja, though was ensured by his success in interview in response to the organization’s advertisement, was not bearable to the Brahmin members of the Servants Society in Orissa. Had Chandrabhanu not been subjected to medieval manners of hire and fire, such an acrid feeling might never have spread.

We do not put any premium on this feeling, but nonetheless we feel, for better appreciation of the public, the Servants Society should clarify its position in this respect.

Freedom of Press cannot and must not be subjected to caste supremacy on the one hand, and on the other, to money-managers’ hegemony. Dismissal of Chandrabhanu in medieval manner tantamount to money-managers playing with freedom of Press, as the editor of the newspaper personifies the phenomenon of Press freedom.

The Servants Society founded by Lalaji and strengthened by Utkalmani and taking it’s breathe with public contributions must not be allowed to play havoc with freedom of Press and subject modern law of employment to medieval practices.

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Orissa Human Rights Commission asks for a Factual Report on Mob-Killing of Lodhas

Collector of the Mayurbhanj District has been asked by the Human Rights Commission, Orissa to submit “a general note on performance of the employment guarantee programme and other poverty alleviation schemes for the improvement of the condition of Lodhas”.

Taking up the case filed by Journalist Prasanta Patnaik and Advocate Biswapriya Kanungo on mob-killing of four of the landless and wretchedly poor Lodhas, details of which were rendered in these pages earlier, the Commission have noted, “The allegation made in the petition prima-facie reveals a sad state of affairs of a community for whom the state is supposed to take integrated development programmes and provide them protection”.

The Commission has sent a copy of the petition along with enclosures to the Collector requesting him “to get the matter inquired into and submit a factual report to the commission on the incident of 10 October 2010”.

The Commission expects that the factual report on mob-attack on the Lodhas leading to death of four of them as well as the general note on performance of programmes meant for their well-being would be submitted by the District Collector “within six weeks”.

MEDIA UNITY FOR FREEDOM OF PRESS (MUFP) CONDEMNS ATTACK ON EPA WEEKLY

A language weekly has been attacked today by a gang of women allegedly as its leader and her NGO had hit its headline in the first part of October, 2010. The embarrassed and intimidated editor of the weekly has moved the Capital Police Station seeking action against the miscreants and protection of his office and staff. Media Unity for freedom of Press has condemned the attack. Below is its statement:

Editor of EPA weekly, Aneel Prasad Mishra has informed the Capital Police Station by way of FIR today (26 Oct.2010) that a group of about 150 ladies led by Smt. Rutuparna Mohanty of “Maa Ghar” forcibly entered into his office at about 12 noon and abused him in vulgar languages. They threatened him with dire consequences also.

On what Mrs. Mohanty and her troop pivoted their assault on the Weekly transpired to be a report in its Vol. 11, Issue No. 28 edition
published on 14 October, 2010.

If Maa Ghar and Mrs Mohanty are aggrieved by a published report, they
are free to take any step permitted by law against the concerned
media. But their group showed scant respect for law and the way they
tried to intimidate Sri Mishra and his staff is clearly an organized
infringement on freedom of press.

Even as MUFP is strong in its opinion that Press should be
meticulously cautious in reporting on women, it wants to make it clear
that reporting any matter of public importance cannot be vitiated with
gender considerations. The MUFP, therefore, condemns equally strongly
the gang act of intimidation resorted to by the organized group of
ladies that Mrs. Mohanty led against the weekly and calls upon the
Police to take action against the gang of ladies for the alarm it has
caused to the weekly editor and his staff by trespassing into its
office and by shattering its work-environment.

MUFP condemns in strongest terms any attempt to gag or threaten
newspersons or news media organizations for any news published or aired by them especially when various legal options of redressal are available to the affected person or institution. It also demand stringent action against all those found guilty after due inquiry by the police.

MUFP will continue to monitor the developments in this case and will take appropriate steps to protect freedom of Press.

For MEDIA UNITY FOR FREEDOM OF PRESS,
Prasanta Patnaik,
Subhas Chandra Pattanayak,
Sampad Mohapatra.
D.N. Singh,
Rabi Das,
Gopal Mohapatra,
Prafulla Das,
Dwijen Padhi.

Orissa Administration: Govt. Bungalow is used for Drug Joint and Prostitution

VE-1 in Unit – 6, Bhubaneswar is a Government Bungalow of Type-5 and in Estate Directorate parlance, a diamond quarter, which stand in close vicinity of the Raj Bhawan, the official residence of the State Governor. Government Officers of Joint Secretary and above rank are usually considered for allotment of residential quarters of this type of quarter. Lower categories of Officers do not dare to apply for allotment of this type of quarter.

But this precious Bungalow is lying abandoned for around a year. The iron grills both in the front and back side of the quarter have been taken away by miscreants. All the wooden panels of doors and windows are also gone.

From the front, the Bungalow now looks like a haunted house. In the rooms, denuded of doors and windows, drug peddlers and casual prostitutes find their heavens. The floors are spread with straws that the debauchee use as beds and the piles of ash speak of how the drug addicts act.

Sometimes ago, a Type-6 quarter in this locality was also in use for such nefarious activities for more than a year. It has now been allotted to a new occupier and therefore the joint has shifted its venue, perhaps to this abandoned bungalow.

Besides being quite adjacent to the Governor’s house, this particular bungalow is very near to the Heads of Departments building and the Secretariat. Both the capital maintenance office and the office of the chief engineer of buildings are within a distance of half a kilometer from this bungalow.

But this is happening without any official intervention. This is Orissa administration!

(Pictures: Laxmi Prasad Pattanayak)

Supreme Court Should Open the Names of “Definitely Corrupt” Chief Justices; This may Free Judiciary from being Looked at Askance

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

I have subscribed to a demand before President Smt Pratibha Patil for an independent enquiry into earmarking of eight of the former Chief Justices of India as “definitely corrupt”, as the accusation has come from a top ranking lawyer and former Law Minister of the country, Sri Shanti Bhusan.

Bhusan has enlisted 16 former Chief Justices of India namely Ranganath Mishra, K N Singh, M H Kania, L M Sharma, M N Venkatachalliah, A M Ahmadi, J S Verma, M M Punchhi, A S Anand, S P Bharucha, B N Kirpal, G B Patnaik, Rajendra Babu, R C Lahoti, V N Khare and Y K Sabharwa, categorizing eight of them as “definitely corrupt”, six as “definitely honest” whereas he has no definite opinion on the rest two.

The category-wise names are given to the Supreme Court in closed envelop challenging the Court to draw contempt proceeding against him if his naming of eight judges as “definitely corrupt”, is considered contemptuous to the Apex Court.

His challenge has not yet been accepted.

Many illustrious judges in the past have also given vent to their agony over corruption in higher judiciary. But for the first time a list of “definitely corrupt” Chief Justices of India has been placed before the Supreme Court by a man regarded as one of the finest lawyers of India and a former Law Minister of the country.

Any delay on part of the Supreme Court to take action on Bhusan’s assertion is harmful to rule of law.

If the Court does not accept Bhusan’s categorization, that should be based on public hearing with every bit thereof available to any Indian absolutely freely and instantly. If it accepts, rigorous punishment, even posthumously, need be given to the persons that being “definitely corrupt” have ruined credibility of Indian judiciary.

It is better for the Supreme Court to open the names of the Chief Justices placed under the “definitely corrupt” category, so that, they can personally defend themselves or admit their respective wrongs and accept punishment with retrospective effect.

The demand I have subscribed to puts premium on enquiry by an independent body outside the Supreme Court as judging the cases against formers Chief Justices by the incumbent judges may not be considered by common public as credible.

Yet I feel, open adjudication on Bhusan’s accusation should be preferred, as the accused judges should be defending themselves before the eyes of the people, the accuser marshalling his evidences in justification of his allegations.

Bhusan has definitely pushed the country into a deep predicament as his action has made us look the highest judiciary at askance. This is the bitterest harm to democracy of India within our living memory. This is more harmful than Man Mohan Singh subjecting the country to American nuke design and winning vote of confidence courtesy the JMM and Jadav horses as well as the right viruses.

The sooner this predicament is over the better.

Mob-Murder in Mayurbhanj: Baripada Police Boss Needs Be Punished Besides LDA Authority-in-Charge

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

These pages carry eminent journalist Prasanta Patnaik’s exclusive report on brutal killing of four poor persons of Lodha community by a mob in Mayurbhanj on speculative suspicion of theft.

As the Police seem to have taken the matter lightly, Patnaik, along with human rights activist, Advocate Biswapriya Kanungo, has, in a petition before the State Human Rights Commission, attracted attention to:

(1). The brutal murder of four young and innocent tribal Lodhas without
any free, fair and public trial by a illegal mob;

(2). The casual approach of Senior Police Officer in regard to this serious heinous crime committed by the mob and failure of the police to apprehend any of the assailants;

(3).Utter failure of Lodha Development Agency for all-round improvement of conditions of Lodhas;

(4). Utter failure of Employment Guarantee Programmes and other poverty alleviation schemes for improvement of the economic condition of the Lodha community, generally landless and uneducated;

(5). Improper inquiry of cases of theft and robbery in the jurisdiction of Baripada Sadar Police Station and Kuliana Police Station and

(6).Lack of proper rehabilitation of Lodha primitive tribes to live with human dignity.

After the petition hit headlines, the Police have arrested six suspected killers. And, Orissa knows how criminals are escaping law because of lacunae in post-arrest prosecution.

The points raised by Patnaik and Kanungo go beyond mere arrest of suspected killers. Besides pointing at the “casual approach” of Police to this heinous crime, they have raised the issue of the failure of Lodha Development Agency (LDA) in bringing out their welfare. This particular Agency was created in recognition of Human Rights of the Lodhas, who collectively had raised a severe armed revolution against the British invaders and therefore had been declared as a Criminal Tribe in 1871 after Orissa was annexed and the foreigners had well settled their hegemony. They were dispossessed and every possible step was taken to keep them demoralized. After independence, the official notification branding them as a criminal tribe was withdrawn in 1956 and eventually LDA was created with funds for their all round development. Utter failure of this Agency is equal to brutal contempt against human rights of the Lodhas. These two and other issues raised by Patnaik and Kanungo before the Human Rights Commission are of very national concern.

We hope, the Human Rights Commission would take up these issues in right earnest and on review of the activities of LDA, shall set it on right rails so that human rights of the primitive tribe of Lodhas are safeguarded sans delay. It should take to task the Chief Minister in person for having reduced administration to a non-functioning machine in protecting human rights, specifically on matters enumerated by Patnaik and Kanungo.

Arrest of the suspected killers is not enough in a climate of ever increasing nexus between police and the criminals and of prosecution left in incompetent novice hands. The state must ask the police to punish them fast, failing which the police officers /prosecutors must be personally subjected to exemplary punishment.

It is time to appreciate that people of Orissa have lost their faith in administration as a result of which they are instantly taking law to their own hands. Killing of the Ladhas by a mob under Sadar Police Station of Baripada is an instance only. Had police ever been able to stop frequent theft in the locality, the people would never have run after speculating about who might be the thief and on the basis of their speculation, howsoever wrong it be, they would never have killed human beings.

Let there be curb on police inaction by fixation of responsibility on area boss of the police wherever any suspected criminal is killed by a mob, accepting such mob action as unfailing evidence of police collaboration with the continuous crime in that locality, which maddens the common man to take law to his own hand under common wrath.

The Human Right Commission should take up this point effectively while acting on the petition filed by Patnaik and Kanungo in the instant case, if intention would be not to make its outcome a farce.

IIMC, Dhenkanal Launches Mobile News Service

Dhenkanal, Oct. 21: Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), Dhenkanal has launched an innovative Short News Service (SNS) over the mobile platform here on Wednesday.

The SNS or Mobile News Service will provide real-time news updates on sports, business, politics, entertainment and everything. The service is exclusively meant for the students and staff members of the institute. They would be receiving news updates on their hand-held devices once a day for the first 15 days. Then, it would be extended four times a day. The service will be operated by the students.

Inaugurating the service, Dr. Mrinal Chatterjee, Professor and Head of the institute said, ‘Mobile phone is ubiquitous now. SMS is becoming increasingly popular mode of communication. It is fast, inexpensive, unobtrusive and user-friendly.”

The SNS will provide a competitive edge to our students when they join the media industry, said Dr. Chatterjee.

Mobile platform is the most effective tool to disseminate news as it breaks to the larger audience. This market is emerging in India. As per the latest TRAI data, there are nearly 65 crore mobile phone users in the country. In order to tap this potential market, media houses are setting up separate departments for SMS service.