I shall, Shashi Bhai, Never Say, You Are No More

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Every human-being belongs to mankind. But mankind does not comprise a single type of human-beings; because they are basically of two types. They may be either male or female, either rich or poor, either indigenous or alien, either industrialists or workers, either politicians or gentlemen, either exploiters or exploited et cetera, et cetera; but all of them belong to only two types: patriots and traitors.

Shashi Bhai, who breathed his last on 22 january 2011 was a patriot.

He was the only son of legendary freedom fighter Gourang Charan Das. In my public life there was a time when I was blessed with an opportunity to work with Gourang Babu. And that had given me the fortune of friendship with Shashi Bhusan Das, Shashi Bhai.

He was deeply affectionate but immensely magnanimous. Incomparably simple but simply majestic. Arriving instantly at the bright side of a seemingly notorious person was his forte wherefrom with utmost ease he was emitting positive thinking that was transforming a foe into a friend for ever.

He was an epitome of humanitarian feelings. Of universal brotherhood.

Some one may not have kept contact with Shashi Bhai for years; but it can be certainly said that in the heart of his heart he must have remained very close to him. On his sad demise, he must have cried inconsolably in the secret chamber of his soul.

I am not going to elaborate on how nice a man was he. I will only say how incomparable was he in contemporary society.

As said supra, he was the only son of the legendary freedom fighter Gourang Charan Das. But he was his comrade in sacrifice for the cause of the Country.

In 1938, when a student of Minor School, he joined his father in freedom movement and within two years he made a mark as a dependable fighter. Came 1942. Quit India movement commenced. Whosoever leader the British could cast eyes on was arrested. Bagalpur, Gourang babu’s village in the then district of Cuttack, emerged as a center of freedom movement under his leadership. The School where Shashi Bhai was a student was used as a production point of revolutionary leaflets containing messages of freedom struggle. Daring the British intelligence, Shashi Bhai, the youngest amongst the fighters, was carrying the cyclostyled leaflets to freedom fighters of various villages in the region spread from Biridi to Ersama. He was the link between the great revolutionary Gobind Chandra Mohanty and others and a regular reporter of events of revolution at Mallipur center of freedom struggle that the famous Binod Kanungo was running. He had been frequenting in the night the dreaded cremation ground – Sati Chaura of Cuttack, which a boy of his age would never have dared to visit even in the day time, to collect freedom leaflets from Banka Behari Das that Surendranath Dwivedy was issuing from the secret center run in the residence of Mathuri Sahu of Alisha Bazar. He had become a challenge for the British despite his tender age. As he was active in planning for paralyzing the British administration in his area of operation, on 1 February 1943 the British police zeroed in on him and he was punished with 18 months of imprisonment. He had refused to appeal against this order as that would have made him accept the legitimacy of the alien court.

When the country achieved independence Shashi Bhai devoted himself to Gandhian programs than hankering, like many others, after power-positions.

If Mother India stays for ever proud of any numbers of her children, Shashi Bhai must stay one of them.

He shall stay for ever a synonym of the romance of sacrifice for the motherland and generations to come will look at this epitome of patriotism for inspiration.

When fellows having no history of sacrifice for the country, have usurped power and have already subjugated India to imperialistic hegemony of foreigners and our republic is rushing into the traps of plutocracy, a man like Shashi Bhai shall appear to every loyal child of the motherland more relevant than when he was alive.

I shall, Shashi Bhai, never say, you are no more. Never.

To me, and I am sure to all who know you and enjoy the romance of sacrifice, you are immortal.

ORISSA GOVERNMENT USES CENTRAL FUNDS TO SLOW-POISON SCHOOL KIDS

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Vigilance Police of Orissa estimates, government has caused a corruption worth at least 500 crores INR in supply of Dal to the School kids under the Midday Meal (MDM) scheme and Supplementary Nutrition Program (SNP).

The corruption is so severe that ruling party stalwart Debashis Nayak had to raise the issue before the media following which, as a skin-saving measure, vigilance was engaged to enquire into the alleged corruption.

As the corruption was unearthed in test investigations conducted in only four districts, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has tried to take the district Collectors to task in the Collectors’ conference on January 21. His father Biju Patnaik had formulated the tactics of shifting responsibility to officials when, under his regime of misrule, corruption had engulfed Orissa. He had called upon the people to physically assault the officials for failure in administration, though the anarchy Orissa was reeling under was generated by his whimsical steering of the state. His tactics was ill-famed as Mada Tattwa (Theory of thrashing the officials). To what extent anarchy had hit Orissa is yet remembered for the attack on Biju himself by members of the Secretariat staff and subsequent refusal of mandate to him in the elections. Hence, the CM’s attempt to lay blame on the Collectors in the Dal scam is being seen as an attempt to shift responsibility in the pattern that industrious Biju had invented.

However, the fact as seen by the vigilance police shows that worm-eaten, rotten and inedible Harad dal adulterated with poisonous Khesari that unscrupulous factory operators even do not dare to use for producing animal and poultry feed, are supplied to schools and anganwadis for consumption by the human kids. And, it is apprehended that the substandard dal, which may cost at best 25 rupees per Kg is supplied at Rupees 75!

More harmful than the massive money swindled in the name of social welfare is the slow-poison given to school kids in the name of MDM and SNP for months and years by the administration run by Naveen Patnaik.

It would be shameful if this harmful corrupt government is allowed to breathe and continues in power to manipulate and tamper with evidences in this crime against the school going kids.

MUFP TO HOST SYMPOSIUM ON SAFETY OF MEDIA IN ORISSA

Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) will hold a symposium on “How safe is Press in Orissa? ” on the 12th of February 2011 in Bhubaneswar.

The Presidium of the MUFP which met on the 21st of January decided to host this event to highlight the growing number of attacks on media persons by vested interest groups as well as the sate authorities and the police and the indifferent attitude of the state government to such developments and also to suggest permanent remedial measures.

The MUFP recorded its sense of shock and hurt over the fact that the
chief minister had done little to arrest this trend despite repeated
appealsto him through a series of memeoranda demanding stringent
action against the offenders.

The MUFP Presidium decided to invite the editors of leading newspapers
and television news channels to participate in the MUFP symposium and
address the mediapersons in regard to the way forward.

A Decade of Missed Opportunities: SAMBAD Missed What Its Editor Had Said

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Sambad editor Soumya Ranjan Patnaik had focused on a serious phenomenon during inauguration of a book published by Ama Odisha, the organization he has founded and heads; but the paper missed the point.

The book, Odisha: A Decade of Missed Opportunities, a compilation of selected articles of Ranjit Guru, senior journalist of Sambad, published under his column Aprasanga and translated into English, is published by Ama Odisha. It was formally inaugurated in the evening of January 15 at IDCOL auditorium, Bhubaneswar with Patnaik in the chair.

Patnaik’s speech was thought provoking. He raised a very pertinent issue. Praising Sri Guru profusely for his upright analysis of how Orissa has missed a decade of opportunities due to misrule, Patnaik linked the administrative anarchy to absence of sense of insecurity amongst political power-holders.

Dwelling on Orissa’s post-independence decadence, he said that her acquired backwardness during the first three decades was being attributed to political instability as none of the political parties/allies were being given comfortable majority by the people. But since start of the forth decade of independence, governments have been formed with massive mandate. Treasury benches have been enjoying absolute majority in the legislature, term after term. But Orissa has not developed. Instead, it has been going down.

Why?

He raised the question and pointed out that the massive mandate gives massive power and massive power corrupts massively as the absence of sense of insecurity in the floor emboldens the Government to ignore the Opposition.

Total absence of sense of political insecurity generated by massive mandate stimulates irresponsibility and resultantly the rulers indulge in rash-driving the State and it leads to crash in every area of administration. He asked the public to cogitate upon this phenomenon intently and urgently.

Sambad, while reporting the event, has inadvertently missed this pertinent issue that its editor had raised.

However, former Chief Secretary Tarun Kanti Mishra, who presently heads the State Information Commission, formally inaugurating the book, exhibited rare magnanimity in begging apology to the people of Orissa for the continuous misrule in which, as a top executive he was associated, for the wrong done to the State. He divulged that Orissa’s per capita income was 93 per cent compared with totality of India in 1951 whereas it has been constantly in the down-falling trend as in the last official records its per capita income is recognized as only 62 percent on the national matrix. Mishra’s speech completely corroborated the claim of the book that the last decade was a decade of missed opportunities for Orissa.

Columnist Dr. Bhagavan Prakash made a brief analysis of the book when to Dr. Rajendra Prasad Das, it was a faithful depiction of Orissa’s decadence in the decade under review.

Eminent man of letters Asit Mohanty, coordinator of Ama Odisha had introduced the purpose behind bringing out an English translation of published columns in Oriya and the author had elaborated on significance of the caption given to the compilation.

The event was well attended to.

Attack Continues on Media in Orissa; MUFP Demands Prosecution against Miscreants

A pack of miscreants, known as ruling party’s muscles, brutally attacked media persons on January 13 inside the campus of Ravenshaw University, Cuttack, when they were collecting information on illegal and unlawful activities of some youths inside the campus. The Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) strongly condemns this brutal attack on media in a statement issued on January 15.

It has been alleged that while media persons representing various print , electronic and web medias were in the campus to cover the unruly actions of some youths/students, who were assaulting some foreign students physically, they were attacked by the unruly youths claiming themselves as students of the University.

Media persons in Orissa have been always cordial and friendly towards the students and their problems and use to highlight it as and when necessary and on no occasion they were so brutally dealt with by the student community.

The MUFP therefore demands immediate arrest of the assaulters and to take stringent action against all persons including the University authority and the police who were responsible for such unruly situation inside the campus.

The MUFP whole heatedly support the stand taken by the media persons of Cuttack condemning the indifferent attitude of the Police Commissionarate towards the media persons by not taking any action against the assaulters and their decision to boycot the police and Government functions till the arrest of the accused persons responsible for attack on media persons.

Civil Society Must Note: Police Embarrasses the Press to Enjoy the Chief Minister’s Predicament over Freedom of Press Or Acts Against Dharitri at the CM’s Behest

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

A syndicated news on police atrocity on media persons dated January 13 was as follows:

The media persons of Bhubaneswar, under the banner of Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) organized on Wednesday a rally of protest against refusal of entry to Dharitri reporter Somanath Sahu by the Police Commissioner to its press meet on January 12.

The freedom tree stands in front of the Soochana Bhawan and is so named because of regular meetings of MUFP under this tree in the cause of freedom of Press.

Dharitri reporter Somanath Sahu , though was invited to attend the Annual Crime Meeting of the Police Commissionarate , was not allowed entry into the venue by high ranking police officials. Sahu was told by his obstructors that the Commissioner of Police had instructed them not to allow any reporter or camera person from Dharitri to the function.

Sahu and other media persons present there alleged that the D.C.P Himansu Lal, S.P. Traffic, and an Inpspector of Police threatened Sahu with dire consequences if he would carry on his writings against the
policre.

The meeting of MUFP strongly  condemned the police atrocity and the media persons demanded exemplary action against the erring police officials. They demanded that all the senior police officials who were responsible for such atrocious behavior on the media persons should be transferred forth with and a high level probe should be taken up to take exemplary actions against the erring police officials.

Demanding the removal of the Commissioner of Police , Deputy Commissioner of Police and ACP traffic and IIC of  Kharavel Police Station for trying to gag the press, the meeting  decided to meet the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik  on January 15 at  State Secretariat and hand over a memorandum in this regard. Among others, senior journalists- Prasanta Patnaik, Subhas Chadra Pattanayak,  Rabi Das, Tathagat Satapathy (Editor Dharitri), Gopal Mohapatra, (Executive Editor, Sambad) spoke on the occasion demanding action against the Police.

But, the CM agreed to meet the MUFP delegation on January 14 instead of 15 and accordingly a delegation led by Prasanta Patnaik met the CM in his official conference chamber and handed him over the memorandum that read:

We, the journalists of the Capital city, hereby submit that we are aggrieved over the increasing highhandedness of the Police Commissionerate with regard to objective reporting by media persons in the recent months in the twin city of Bhubaneswar-Cuttack. 

The latest incident took place on Wednesday (January 12) at office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police in Saheed Nagar area where Somanath Sahu, Reporter of leading Oriya daily `Dharitri’ was threatened and manhandled by police officers and not allowed to attend a press conference there.  

DCP  Mr. Himanshu Lal and some other police officers, including ACP (Traffic) Mr. Nirmal Kumar Satpathy and IIC of Kharavel Nagar police station Mr. Satyajit Mishra had told Mr. Sahu that Police Commissioner Mr. Bijay Kumar Sharma had instructed them not to allow any Correspondent of `Dharitri’ to attend the said press meet. 

Mr. Sahu was also threatened with dire consequences by the police officers who forcefully prevented his entry into the hall where the press meet was being held. 

Earlier during the National Youth Festival, the Commissionarate had virtually imposed such ban on the reporters and camera persons of “ Aaromv “ Oriya daily, published from Bhubaneswar since it had published some critical report against the police.

Against such a backdrop, we request you to personally intervene in the matter and immediately transfer the Police Commissioner, the DCP, the ACP (Traffic) and IIC of Kharavel Nagar police station for their unlawful and arrogant behavior  toward journalists on duty. We also demand for a high-level probe into the incidents of atrocities by the police and to take exemplary action against the erring police officers so that media persons will feel free and safe to perform their duty.

On receiving this memorandum, the CM gave it to his principal secretary and assured the MUFP delegation that he would look into the matter.

It is not for the first time that MUFP delegation has met the CM over attack on journalist and transgression of Freedom of Press.

It is also not the first time that the CM has assured of action against the involved miscreants.

But the CM has never acted as per his assurances. The MUFP delegation is also not sure this time that he will act.

The Press was to protest against the nefarious conduct of the Police against collection of information by media persons. In a dignified way befitting the Press, demonstration of disapproval of police action against the Dharitri reporter was offered under the Freedom Tree and then a Memorandum has been submitted to the CM.

Whether Sri Naveen Patnaik shall act as the CM and save Freedom of Press from repression or shall continue as a nonchalant person in the chair of the CM will be known in course of time; but at the moment it is clear that the Police has been enjoying his predicament over the issue of Freedom of Press.

By singling out the Dharitri reporter and threatening him with dire consequences if he dares to enter into the venue of the press meet, as the picture so expressly indicates, the Deputy Commissioner of Police just tried to test how the CM would react if one of his close colleague like Sri Tathagat Satapathy was to be embarrassed by denial of reporting rights to his authorized reporter.

Alas! the CM has not yet reacted!

Should it be assumed that the CM is contemptuous towards Freedom of Press or accepted that he is secretly involved with the police action against Dharitri in order to test how his party colleague Sri Satapathy would react?

Somnath Sahu’s case is a test case wherein not only the CM’s ruling ability would be mapped but also the journalistic personality of Tathagat Satapathy who has even preferred to be known as accredited reporter of Daritri despite being its editor would be judged vis-a-vis his political personality as an MP of the BJD.

It deserves mention that Tathagat is a known opponent to handing over the coastal land to Vedanta University. Even, during Biju Patnaik’s reign, he had not only opposed in the floor of the House the administrative conspiracy to hand over the coastal land to hoteliers, but also had come out with signed editorial to educate the local mass on why allocation of the land on the Puri-Konark marine Drive to capitalist concerns should be opposed. During Naveen’s regime, he has issued similar editorials that highlight the need for allocation of land to landless ago community instead of allotment to persons like Anil Agrawal in the style of Vedanta university. Against this background, the recent razing down of the compound wall of his old plot on the sea beach at Puri as well as the denial of reporting rights to his reporter at Bhubaneswar by the Police can be read as not without motive.

The civil society must rise to the occasion and stand with MUFP in protection of Freedom of Press.

People of Athgarh Apprised Indian EC of How A Returning Officer Can Damage Democracy

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The only duty of the Election Commission (EC) of India is to conduct the elections to the Parliament and Assemblies. To discharge this duty perfectly, the EC has been vested with the powers of “superintendence, direction and control of elections” under Article 324 of the constitution of India. But it is enjoying these powers while neglecting its duty. This is why election cases are so remnant.

Athgarh in the district of Cuttack (Orissa Assembly Constituency No.89) offers enough materials to study this syndrome. There are several postings in these pages on how it is a victim of the EC’s negligence to duty. But the EC has not yet thought it prudent to react to the points raised therein, though democracy requires its reaction.

A mere Returning Officer (RO) at the base level, who by virtue of being the sub-collector of Athgarh sub-division was made the RO, obliged the political rivals of the sitting MLA of that constituency by intentionally rejecting his nomination papers on false and fabricated grounds on the day of screening and then issued to EC a list of valid candidates excluding the name of that candidate.

On the table of screening, the RO declared that the nomination papers submitted by the sitting MLA Ranendra Pratap Swain did not have the support of a valid party ticket as the same was a xerox copy, not signed in ink. This was contrary to actuals, as the same RO had received the original party ticket signed in ink personally on the day of submission of the nomination papers and had kept the same under his custody beyond reach of any other person. The RO had issued receipt thereof and declared an unambiguous check list. Despite this, he had the audacity to say that the party ticked submitted by the candidate was not the original, but a xeroxed one. Who but the RO could have made a xerox copy of the party ticket when that was in his custody?

Clearly, the RO sabotaged democracy at Athgarh.

Swain had moved the EC to intervene immediately so that the wrong perpetrated by the RO could be removed and he could contest the election. But, the EC refused to step in. Orissa High Court, as mentioned in the older posting, has nullified the election and declared that “a casual vacancy is created relating to 89-Athgarh Assembly constituency thereby”.

People of Athgarh, in a memorandum to the Chief Election Commissioner during his visit to Bhubaneswar to inaugurate the EC’s eastern zonal symposium on “sharing best electoral practice”, have brought this matter to his notice and demanded that to save democracy from further misuse of ROs in future, “There should be at least one layer of appeal in the EC mechanism to give justice to a victimized candidate so that killing of democracy as has happened in Athgarh constituency by the RO shall not happen elsewhere any more”.

The memorandum signed by Satyaprakash Rath and others was handed over to CEC on January 11. In another memorandum signed by Sidhartha kumar Das and others, the CEC has been moved to unseat the elected MLA of Athgarh, Ramesh Raut on evident allegation of false affidavit during filing of nomination papers.