REMEMBERING NAGAMANI MOHANTY : WHOSE SWEET VOICE WILL NOT BE HEARD AGAIN.

By Prasanta Patnaik

I had first met Nagamani Mohanty in a cultural program at Puri, as back as in 1959 while I was a student of S.C.S. College, Puri. At that time Puri was humming with literary and cultural activities. In a literary meeting at the Town Hall, Puri , the organizers suddenly announced over the microphone requesting Smt. Nagamani Mohanty to sing a light classical song.

 ” Nagamani ” the name itself sounded strange to me as such a name was never familiar to me. Soon a slim lady appeared on the stage along with her tanpura and two accompanists on tabla. For some time there was little uneasiness in the auditorium . Many whispered “what song this lady will sing, who does not appear to be an Oriya lady ?”

Nagamani started singing a Meera Bhajan charming the entire audience. There was pin drop silence. Nagamani charmed every body with her sweet melodious voice. Soon there were a series of requests from the audience. Young and old present there were charmed by her sweet voice with classical touch. 

One of my friend, Prafulla Chandra Patnaik, a budding poet at that time informed me that the young lady, though hails from a respectable Telugu family has married an young Oriya youth, Harish Chandra Mohanty, eldest son of eminent social activist Smt. Saraswoti Devi ,  well known for her reformist actions all over the State. 

Though I am not an ardent listener of music, Nagamani’s song left a deep impression in my mind. 

Born in 1943, Nagamani had obtained M.A. in Classical Music and Sangeet Alankar from Gandharv Mahavidyalaya Pune.  Subsequently she was empaneled as an approved artist of All India Radio in 1968 and participated in over a thousand of programmes in the AIR ( All India Radio ). She contributed classical songs in a number of Oriya films as play back singer and also had lent her voice for production of several audio cassettes and C.D.s.  Nagamni worked as a senior music teacher in Kendriya Vodyalaya at Balasore between 1972 to 2003, until she took VRS after sudden unfortunate death of her eldest son Rajesh. The second set back was death of her eldest daughter Bhagyalaxmi who died at a very young age.  During her career as a teacher, she has produced thousands of good musicians devoted to classical and light classical music. She was honoured by hundreds of institutions inside the State and also from outside. She was also awarded Orissa Sangeet Akademi Award for her contribution to Oriya classical music.

Smt. Mohanty left for her heavenly abode leaving behind her most beloved husband Harish Chandra Mohanty, who was a senior officer in Orissa Government,  youngest son Col.Rajesh Mohanty and younger daughter along with grand sons and grand daughters.  Her loss is not only a loss to his family members, it is also a loss for the Oriya light classical music lovers, who will not be able to hear her charming songs again from her sweet voice. 

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MEDIA UNITY FOR FREEDOM OF PRESS SENDS MEMO OF PROTEST AGAINST ATTACK ON MEDIA TO GOVERNOR OF ODISHA

Shocked over the Chief Minister’s discernible negligence to protection of freedom of Press, the Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) decided on 7th of February 2011 not to meet any functionary but to apprise the State Governor of events of assault on media persons by way of a memorandum through internet.

Here below is the text of the memorandum:

To
Hon’ble Governor
Raj Bhawan
Bhubaneswar

Sub : Rising trend of criminal attacks on media persons

Hon’ble Sir,

With a sense of deep anguish and anger we at the Media Unity for Freedom of Press  wish to draw your kind attention to the latest instance of a brutal and murderous attack on a fellow journalist, Rajat Ranjan Dash of the Sambad by the Chairman of the NAC, Pipili and his criminal gang on the 4th of February 2011 for daring to expose his corrupt deals through a news item . Sri Dash is being treated for multiple fractures and head injury at the Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar.

The very fact that the people in Pipili chose to block the NH-203 for hours in protest against the murderous attack on Sri Dash soon after it happened clearly proves that the report on the chairman of the local NAC filed by Sri Dash in his newspaper did reflect the truth and people’s sentiments.

Sir, we have met with the Chief Minister repeatedly in the last 15 months to draw his attention to the growing number of cases of murderous attacks on media persons by vested interest groups and people with political clout. But unfortunately all his promises of ‘stringent action’ against the guilty have proved to be hollow.

Sir, the state government has done little so far to instill a sense of security among media persons. In fact its gross indifference to the cause and protection of media freedom has encouraged corrupt and criminal elements to attack media persons at will. The police have often been found to be on the side of the attackers and in fact there are several instances when they have themselves targeted media
persons.

Under such circumstances we would like to appeal to you to kindly consider instructing the state government to (a) issue definite directions to all district collectors and police heads across the state to ensure highest protection to media persons  and (b ) to submit a report to you stating the action taken on the petitions submitted by the MUFP to the chief minister since December 2009 .

Sir, we urge upon you to kindly intervene in the matter and ensure a sense of security and freedom for the media and media persons operating in the state. We are sure you would agree that a healthy democracy presupposes the presence a free, vibrant  and independent media that any effort by vested interests to scuttle or endanger media freedom would be to the detriment of every section of our democratic polity.

With high hopes that you would do the needful and deepest regards

Yours sincerely

Prasanta Patnaik, Rabi Das, Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, Prafulla Das, Gopal Mohapatra, DN Singh, Sampad Mahapatra, Sudhir Patnaik, Ramesh Mohanty, K.Ravi, Basudev Mohapatra, Kedar Mishra, RL Patnaik, Manoranjan Mishra, Sabyasachi Panigrahi, Sarat Paikray, Lambodar P Dash, Gourprasad Rajguru, Bipin SIngh, Amar Patnaik, Dr SS Ali, Rajkishor Das, Sukant Routray, Kamalakant Pati, Deba Choudhury, Sarat Kumar Rout, Umesh Chandra Ray, Suresh Ch Mohanty, Priyanath Sahu, Jajati Mohanty, Pratap Kumar Barik, Sukant K Pradhan, Suryamani Mishra, Bijay Kumar Nanda, Jeeban Ray, Seshadev Nanda, Durga Charan Nayak, Samanway Nanda, Sanjay Jena, Lipsa Tripathy, Kishore Chandra Mangaraj, Akhand, Baishnav Jena   Bauribandhu Maharana and others

Attack on Scribe at Pipili: MUFP Shocked over Police Inaction

The MUFP held a protest meeting under the Freedom Tree near Soochna Bahawan in Bhubaneswar on Monday , 7 February 2011 to condemn the brutal and murderous attack on Sambad’s Pipil reporter, Sri Rajat Ranjan Dash by the BJD chairman of Pipili Notified Area Council (NAC ) and his criminal gang on teh 4th of February and to demand the immediate arrest of the said ruling party politican and all those responsible for the dastardly assault on Sri Dash.

Sri Dash who had been discharged from the hospital on Monday morning was present at the venue of the protest meeting and shared shocking details of the assault on him. Sri Dash said he had become the target of the NAC Chairman Mr Sheikh after he published reports on the growing public demand for a probe into the alleged large scale corruption in the local urban body.

Sri Dash said he was beaten black and blue after the NAC chairman pointed a gun at his head and threatened to eliminate him if he ever dared write anything against him.

He also revealed that the attackers also looted cash worth Rs 12,500, a gold chain and three mobile sets from him. The NAC chairman then ordered his men to strip him and he was paraded naked for a while until local people came to his rescue and took him to the hospital.

The MUFP has demanded definite answers from the Chief Minister, Home Secretary and the Collector and SP of Puri as to why the police has so far not acted on the basis of the FIR lodged in this regard when by all accounts the accused have committed a very serious criminal offence and should have been behind bars by now.

The MUFP has decided to submit a petition to the Hon’ble Governor of Orissa and take follow-up action to ensure those responsible for the criminal assault of Sri Rajat Ranjan Dash are arrested and jailed.

Attack on Media Continues in Orissa; This Time by Chief Minister’s Chum

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Naveen Patnaik’s regime is marked for increasing attacks on Press by political hoodlums, economic offenders and police. This time, Rajat Ranjan Das of Sambad, Orissa’s most circulated daily that has been exposing the current phase of misrule, has been mortally attacked by Sk. Babu, a chum of the Chief Minister. He heads the Notiified Area Council (NAC), Pipili on the eastern boundary of the capital city of Orissa.

Babu and his gang, named in the FIR registered in Police case No.20/11 under Sections 143/341/294/323/325/379/506/149 IPC, brutally attacked Das on the Nimapada square on 4 February 2011. He was looted of the cash and jewelry under his possession and a fellow journalist, Pratap Barik of Anupam Bharat and Sambad hawker Niladri Bihari Mohaptra, who tried to protect Das were also attacked.

Babu and his gang were determined to kill Das, as to them, he had exposed in the Sambad the corrupt practices going on in the NAC. In an attempt to murder him, they threw the bleeding and flummoxed Das on the road so that he could be crushed under any vehicle and resultant death would appear like an accident.

But accidentally, exactly at that time, Dhirendra Samantray, President of Siddheswar Merchants Federation, was coming from the market square to Nimapara square. On seeing him, the gang fled away.

Samantaray rescued Das and brought him to Pipili Government Hospital where his condition took a turn from bad to worse. He has been shifted from there to the Capital Hospital.

But the police has not yet arrested the kingpin of the crime, Babu, who left untouched, is trying to tamper with evidences, as reports from the locality suggest.

Media Unity for Freedom of Press has strongly condemned the attack and expressed solidarity with Das. The MUFP has expressed shock over police inaction against the concerned criminals and has praised Barik and Mohapatra for their attempt to protect Das from the miscreants. The MUFP also has thanked Samantray for having rescued Das from the grip of death.

MUFP has umpteen times met the Chief Minister in his official chamber and apprised him of details of attacks on media-persons in Orissa. But his assurance to take action against the attackers and their instigators have never proceeded beyond his meretricious lips. So this time, MUFP preferred to publicly condemn the atrocity under the Freedom Tree, before the State Information Center (arbitrarily changed into Jaydev Bhawan by a confused government), Around a hundred journalists representing all segments of media beyond union boundaries gathered under the Tree that now stands identified with the journalists’ attempt to protect the Press Freedom.

MUFP is set to have a symposium soon at Bhubaneswar on the them of threat to freedom of press from the government itself.

Pramila Resigned on Conscience Ground; Where is Chief Minister’s Conscience?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

For the last eight years, under-nourished expectant mothers and school going kids belonging to the poor families in Orissa have been administered with slow-poison by the government led by Naveen Patnaik, as the officially supplied Dal to school going kids and expectant mothers under the Midday Meal (MDM) scheme and Supplementary Nutrition Program (SNP) was all along adulterated with the most harmful grain: Khesari, over and above being worm-eaten, rotten and fungus infested.

Khesari is the cheapest grain available in the market; cheapest because, it is toxic and carcinogenic. Its cultivation is banned in Orissa since around three decades.

But after bagging contracts to supply dal under the above two programs, the dishonest traders are financing farmers in advance for its cultivation and collecting the poisonous seeds in the cheapest possible rate and adulterating Arhar Dal – they are contracted to supply – with Khesari, fetching thereby profuse profit. They also import substandard dal from beyond Orissa, as vigilance police has unearthed, in lower prices and make huge profit by supplying the same in double the rate. The scam, roughly estimated, in terms of rupees, exceeds 3000 crores.

Time and again school children have protested against inedible food. Even kids have succumbed to food poisoning. Their protests have always been suppressed.

It is a matter of shame that the CM and his tainted team maintain that the crime was not within their knowledge. If it is true, then it is true that these fellows have no qualification to rule the State, as they admit about their inability to understand how administration runs under them and what others say of their government.

Apart from innumerable reports in the media, which the government cannot feign ignorance about, as its information officers must have routinely placed them before the ministers concerned and the Chief Minister, it was challenged in a case before the Supreme Court of India in 2004 that the People’s Union for Civil Liberty (PUCL) had raised against the pernicious felony. In this case, the court had issued direction on how to eliminate compromise in quality of the dal procured for the purpose.

Naveen Patnaik government was so much hand-in-glove with the dishonest suppliers that it sloughed over the supreme court verdict.

This serious crime having crossed all limits, even a section of party colleague of the Chief Minister having shunned their silence over the discernible havoc being played upon the lives of the school going kids and expectant mothers, people in every nook and corner of the state had started condemning the government as vociferously as possible and the climate was taking such a turn that a violent mass uprise against Naveen’s misrule was growing wings.

There was frantic search in the fidgeted camp of the CM for avenues to escape. The only avenue readily available was jettisoning the Child and Women Welfare minister Pramila Mallik. She was summoned to the CM’s residence and on return from there, she resigned on February 5.

Press in general is one in reporting that the minister resigned, because she was asked to resign at the cost of dismissal. But Ms. Mallik as well as the super-supremo of the ruling BJD, Pyari Mohan Mohapara, who as a former bureaucrat has mastered the art of hoodwinking, maintain that she has resigned on conscience ground owing responsibility for the Dal scam, even though the state vigilance police had given her a clean chit.

Let us believe that she has resigned on conscience ground. Where has gone the Chief Minister’s conscience?