Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

On June 11, 2008 my discussion on how wrong was the official attempt to change the spelling of Orissa to Odisha was captioned, “Orissa in Peril: Government Plays Havoc with Her heritage”. As the attempt has failed to succeed as yet in spite of the Bill in this regard having passed the Parliament, I urge upon every thinking mind, specifically of Orissa and amongst members of Indian Parliament where the said Bill is to be considered afresh on technical grounds, to please read again the same article, to cogitate the question raised therein and to stop the unconcerned government tampering with classicism of Orissa, which, the proposed change of its spelling to Odisha will certainly do.

To Orissa’s misfortune, she is under the grip of a man, who not only does not know Oriya, but also has no ability to know how unique is the classicism of Oriya language. He was not born and brought up in Orissa and has no natural concern for Orissa.

He heads the State Government in absence of an alternative. In fact, he came to power because of the Congress Party that acts as Opposition in Orissa. The Congress high command – remote controlled by American lobby – had paved the way for him to capture power so that foreign based mines mongers may grab Orissa’s mineral wealth, which any Congress leader, born and brought up in Orissa might never have so unconcernedly allowed. A look at the conduct of Congress high commands makes this clear.

Emergence of Naveen Patnaik

How the Congress High Command helped Naveen emerge as Orissa’s Chief Minister is discernible in how it ruined the party in this province.

An able and astute politician like J.B.Patnaik was willfully removed from power just before general elections with lightweights, one after another in quick succession replacing him by the Congress high command. Congress workers and supporters in Orissa were completely confused and under that climate of confusion, mismanagement of super-cyclone 1999 relief operation by the successors of JB having irritated the general public, Congress had lost to the new challenger BJD which was formed by shrewd sycophants of Biju Patnaik immediately after his death with Naveen Patnaik as its head.

Biju was thrown out of power because of rampant corruption in administration. The founders of BJD were his partners in corruption. They were so discredited that after Biju’s death, death of their political lives was imminent. No other political party, they were sure, would accept them. Even their own Party – the Janata Dal – was reluctant to retain them. Hence, they tried to stay united in the name of Biju. But none of them was willing to accept any of them as the chief of the new combine. Hence, strategists amongst them such as Ramakrishna Patnaik, Nalini Mohanty and Bijay Mohapatra had persuaded the rest of their colleagues to take refuge under a son of Biju, which, they had argued, may help them return to power by exploiting the sympathy of the simple-natured people of Orissa, who, by birth magnanimous, were expected to pardon him after his death.

Their expectation worked and with Congress high command having ruined the credibility of its provincial leadership, the newly formed Biju Janata Dal bagged the mandate under sympathy waves for his son, Naveen.

And, since then, Naveen has given Orissa the worst of administration in every sphere.

Yet, he is in power; because the Congress high command has always acted to demoralize the provincial leadership at the eve of every general election since then to the chagrin of Congress workers and sympathizers.

Naveen continues in power by help of Congress High Command

As for instance, Congress high command, overwhelmed by the feeling that it lost the State because it had jettisoned J.B.Patnaik (JB) in 1999, had appointed him as PCC President during Naveen’s first term in Office, following which the Party was rejuvenated to such speaking strength that the panicked Naveen had to jettison four of his cabinet colleagues including founder members of BJD, just to save his own skin and to assure the people that he stands for clean administration. Despite this comedy of cleansing, Naveen had no chance of gaining a fresh mandate as by that time Congress had regained its lost popularity and BJD had lost its credibility due to corruption and over dependance of officers in administration. When the situation was quite favorable for return of Congress to power, just before the general elections, JB was removed from the PCC stewardship and replaced by a lightweight. The Congress workers were too confused to campaign with confidence in the election and people were too shocked to support Congress candidates. In the circumstances, Naveen was not challenged and that helped him capture power for the second term. Jayadev Jena was leading the party when Naveen was set to seek mandate for the third term. There was no chance for him this time. Stench of corruption was suffocating the general public as use of state terror to suppress protests against misrule was generating public determination to oust him. Reading the public mind, his two-term ally BJP was also distancing from him. The situation was highly suggestive of end of the age of Naveen misrule. People of Orissa were waiting to show him the door. Congress high command rushed to his rescue. It changed the PCC leadership just before the elections and replaced Jayadev Jena with K.P.Singhdeo as PCC president. The appointment of Singhdeo who personifies the Dhenkanal legacy of brutal exploitation of the people and merciless oppression of freedom fighters including murder of Baji Raut for which the family has never repented, as President of the State unity of the Congress to lead the party in general election was too offensive for the general public to vote for the Congress. Naveen, as expected, was Orissa’s Hobson’s choice for the third term.

Thus Naveen is in power because the party which should have led the people to oust him has provoked the people to vote for him by demoralizing the PCC leadership at the verge of general elections. This man has no concern for Orissa. His love for POSCO and the likes has found natural ally in the Congress high command remote-controlled by deities of imperialism. Over and above the disguised help of the Congress high command, Naveen has always taken advantage of political stunts that he well equipped to play to false Oriya pride to grab power by misleading the public. Change of the spelling of Orissa to Odisha is one such stunt.

Classical aspect of Oriya language

The English spelling of Odisha stands as Orissa is an universally accepted recognition of the unique classicism of Oriya language. This was discussed in details in my article referred to supra. I insist that everybody interested in knowing the historicity of why the name of this splendid land was spelt as Orissa in English should read that article again and act to stop vandalization of classicism of Oriya which is not only the language of a “fine race” (Gandhiji in Young India) but also is a classic language, richer in vocabulary, as Linguistic Survey of India has noted, than Bengali, Hindi and Telugu.

It is not surprising that idiots are getting elected to legislatures both in state and central levels under machinations of plutocracy. For them to change the spelling of a province’s name to the detriment of her classical uniqueness is not unusual as more than patriotic conduct they depend on political acrobatics to grab and stay in power. For them change of Orissa to Odisha is no matter of qualm. But all the members of Indian Parliament are not idiots. When the Bill will go to them again, let them first try to know as to why the spelling of this State of classical heritage was Orissa in English. It is sad that before agreeing to change the spelling by way of constitutional amendment, not a single member of Parliament had tried to know as to why that spelling had evolved. By accepting and using Orissa as the English spelling of this State, its founders, who under the able leadership of Kulagaurav Madhusudan Das had made yeomen sacrifice to resurrect the motherland to her present shape and had given birth to the first linguistic State of India, have given their permanent stamp of approval to the British endeavor to honor the classical uniqueness of of this historic land. Agents of land-grabbers in power must not be allowed to tamper with this classical uniqueness.

Thanks, Tathagat Satpathy

I am happy that Parliamentarian Tathagat Satpathy has expressed support to stoppage of the spelling change through an editorial in his news daily Dharitri. He is late by almost two years from the date of my aforesaid discussion. But as the axiom says, it is better late than never.

It will be better for motherland Orissa if all her right-thinking children start protesting against the political stunt of spelling change, howsoever be they late, as this is more essentially urgent at this moment than never protesting, if safeguarding the classical uniqueness of the mother-tongue is felt to be the dearest duty of conscious human beings.

Samadrusti to Observe Orissa Byanga Chitra Divas on 1st April

Progressive periodical Samadrusti will observe Orissa Byanga Chitra Divas on April 1, 2011 to make people aware of what has happened to the land while celebrating Utkal Divas.

An exhibition of cartoons by a team of cartoonists famously known as the Aaltu
Faaltu team – whose first exhibition in 2007 led to a publication styled ‘Striking Strokes’ – will be sponsored by Samadrusti, according to its editor, Sudhir Patnaik.

About their cartoons, the Aaltu Faaltu group has said in its preface to the Striking Strokes, “behind every cartoon have gone many rounds of discussion on its content and composition. Also lies behind it a strong resolution to make meaningful things happen on this soil though much scandalized as the

The Samadrusti, says Patnaik, has benefited a lot from its association with this extremely talented creative group.

“On 1st April 2011, we are organizing the annual  exhibition of cartoons by Aaltu Faltu. Please join us at Lohia Academy at 11 AM to celebrate the day with the cartoons”, Patnaik has requested.

The exhibition would remain open till the evening.

Dr Chitta Samant: The Maverick Communicator

By Dr Mrinal Chatterjee

Dr Chitta Samant could have died only this way. He could never have died of prolonged illness. He could never have allowed himself to be nursed by others. He was too self reliant (some termed it arrogance) to have died in a hospital, in the care of the doctors.

He passed away on Saturday (26 March 2011) night in his sleep at his Bhubaneswar residence. Even his wife was not aware when he breathed his last. It was only in the morning when she brought the customary cup of bed tea that she discovered Dr Samant was no more.

Dr Samant (born 1952) was a multi-talented personality. He did his Masters in Psychology in 1974 and Ph.D in communication in 1984. He worked as a Social Scientist in Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from 1975 to 1981. He was associated with SITE (Satellite Instructional Television Experiment ) programme.

Then he worked with Doordarshan from 1981 to 1983. He joined the Psychology department of North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) as a faculty from 1983. He left his job in 1985 and and came back to Bhubaneswar and started a communication solution providing organization – DIPS.

It was futuristic in mid 80s in Bhubaneswar. But that was Dr Samant, a futuristic person, a visionary. A thinker and go-getter. He had rendered consultancy services to both government and private organizations for preparation of development projects.

He worked as Communication Advisor for the World Bank assisted ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) project in Orissa. He provided communication consultancy services to several international NGOs. In early this decade he joined a Bhubaneswar based Engineering College as the Principal.

Recently he joined Barrister Ranjit Mohanty International Institute of Management as a director. He was bit of a maverick. Look at his career trajectory: from lecturer in psychology to communication consultant to international NGOs to principal in Engineering college to director in management institute.

He had the arrogance of a maverick. He could not and did not tolerate fools and stupid persons. He was outspoken and many a times paid penalty for being so. He wrote four books- on widely different subjects. His first book on Evaluative Research was published in 1981.

His second book More than Words (published 1998) was a handbook for writers and editors. Not many know that he was also a painter and designer. He used to design the covers of Jhankar, one of the most respected Oriya literary magazines in the 1980s. He used to design his books himself. He also used to design the interiors of his home and office rooms.

I came in contact with him in Bhubaneswar in mid 80s. I worked with him in DIPS for a while, learnt the art of writing academic articles and reports from him. He was a teacher all through. A very dear teacher. I miss him.

May his soul rest in peace.

Tytler’s Visit was Meant to Suppress the Legislative Conscience of CLP Members


Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Jagdish Tytler’s visit to Orissa was not for reviving the provincial Congress unit lying in coma, but for helping Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik survive the storm over slow-poisoning of school going kids and carrying women that were, for years, heartlessly fed with poisonous split pulses across the State.

The pulse scandal had pushed Naveen into an unprecedentedly bitter political quagmire, with Debashish Nayak of his own party having exposed the savage crime. Nayak has alleged in the Assembly that he has received threats to his life because of this.

Last session of Orissa Legislative Assembly was entirely lost on the issue of chief-ministerial protection to tainted ministers and the first part of the current session was equally lost over the exposure of the split-pulse scam. Despite dismissal of the lady minister who presided over the women and child development department during the period of the scam, there was no change of stance in Congress Legislative Party in the second phase of this session too, as it was harping on the demand for discernible action against all the perpetrators of the heinous crime.

Every day was becoming, in the court of mass conscience, a day of Naveen’s conviction for the crime against the children and pregnant women of Orissa.

The CM and his caucus together were so concussed that to carry on, the Congress Legislative Party was, at any cost, to be gained over.

At this stage, Congress High Command came, yet again, to the rescue of Naveen by prodding the CLP members to soften their stance and participate in the proceedings of the Assembly. Tytler fulfilled this secret mission.

As we have earlier shown in these pages several times, the Congress high command has always stood with Naveen, both being factors of plutocracy and facilitators of POSCO and other American interests.

Change of PCC Presidents at the eve of general elections, oblivious of how adversely may that affect Congress prospects, is indicative of how the Congress high command has kept the Congress Party in Orissa weakened in order to keep Naveen in power so that POSCO and the likes would gain.

The game plan is so solid that Orissa had to witness a surprise stoppage of election of PCC President, the moment it was clear that one of the working Presidents of PCC – Lalatendu Vidyadhar Mohapatra- the marked merciless crusader against Neveen’s misrule, was sure to win.

No wonder, Tytler was sent to suppress the collective legislative conscience of CLP members and impose on them the commands of the high command that Naveen should no more be embarrassed by stonewalling of the Assembly over pulse scandal.

As always, the Congress legislators have obliged their so-called high command and Naveen has gained back confidence that despite corruption, he shall stay in power.


The Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) in an emergency meeting convened today, 16 March 2011,under the Freedom Tree condemns the criminal attack on media persons by a gang of unruly students at the Centurion Institute of Technology, Paralakhemundi on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 while they were covering the student unrest inside the campus.

MUFP expresses its deep concrn over the fact that several Parlakhemundi-based journalists – ETV Reporter Sri Rama Govinda Acharya, OTV Reporter Sri Bidhan Chaudhury,ANI Reporter Santosh Patnaik, Kanak TV Reporter, Srikant Maharana, Naxatra TV reporter, Basudev Das have been injured in the attack.

The MUFP demands that the police and administration take immediate steps to ensure the cameras and other equipment snatched away from these journalists are returned to them within 24 hours failing which they should be compensated as per the market value of the goods stolen by the unruly students or the management of the Centurion Institute of Technology at the earliest.

The MUFP resolves to stand by the affected colleagues and draw the attention of the Editors’ Advisory Panel of the MUFP for further action at their end.



The MUFP, in the strongest possible terms, condemns the criminal attack on a group of media persons by an unruly gang of students of Centurion Institute of Technology, Paralakhemundion Tuesday, 15 March 2011 and demands immediate identification and arrest of all those found guilty. The unfortunate incident took place when local media persons were covering the student unrest inside the campus. Following the brutal attack ETV Reporter Sri Rama Govinda Acharya, OTV Reporter Sri Bidhan Chaudhury and ANI Reporter Santosh Patnaik, Kanak Tv Reporter, Srikant Maharana, Naxatra TV reporter, Basudev Das, Kamyab TV reporter Rupesh Sahoo and others have been injured and their cameras have been snatched away.

Students targeting media persons is a rather unfortunate development and we are reminded of a similar incident at the Ravenshaw college campus recently. The Odisha media has been very supportive of genuine student demands and has raised a number campus and education related issues across the state. MUFP, therefore, believes such criminal behaviour by a small group of students in Parlakhemundi will be condemned by the student community at large. The MUFP demands immediate arrest of all involved in the criminal attack on the media persons .The administration should immediately act and ensure that all the damaged camera and equipments be replaced while ensuring that the authorities would take preventive steps so that the media persons can discharge their duties freely.


Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Narayan Patra retired as a superintendent of audit under the Efficiency Audit Organization of Orissa Government. When in service, he was the strongest single voice, at least in Orissa, against Jawaharlal Nehru family transforming Indian democracy into hereditary family domain. Patra’s book “Ganatantra Banchao” published under his pseudo name ‘Phurufura’ was a curtain raiser of the foul game Nehru family was playing against the people. This book was profusely referred to by all those that were fighting against Congress misrule in the nineteen seventies in Orissa. This man, now 71, is still strong like steel against judges in pursuit of justice.

Patra’s beloved daughter Kalyani was given in marriage to Atmaram Sahu of Nuabazar, Talcher on 27.5.1994. She died on 15.6.1995, as informed in her father-in-law’s FIR, by slipping over the toilet floor. But this was evidently a false information, because the post-mortem report showed that the death “was due to asphyxia and shock caused by ante-mortem hanging”. Patra alleged that his daughter was murdered by her husband and family-in-law as he was not able to satisfy their dowry demands. Police arrested Atmaram and his father Chittaranjan, but helped the mother-in-law and sisters-in-law to escape. As the escaped persons were not brought to books, the issue hit the State Assembly. The then Chief Minister J. B. Patnaik had to tell the House that it was not easy for the police to apprehend the absconding accused persons as Sahu’s family was not only rich but also was highly connected and influential. However, he had assured, they would soon be arrested.

They were not arrested; but the prosecution tried to convert the suspected murder case into a case of suicide for which it was essential to obliterate the FIR filed by Chittaranjan that had noted that Kalyani having failed to come out of the toilet for quite a long time, he had forced open the toilet door and found her still body on the floor with her face towards the roof. Chittaranjan’s this FIR was ruining the family’s stance that Kalyani had committed suicide by hanging herself.

So, the FIR mysteriously missed from the records before the sessions court. Later, however, as Patra insisted upon action against missing of the FIR, a copy thereof was retrieved from the lower court records and admitted by Sahu as true copy of the original FIR, that was granted exhibit status.

Atmaram was punished with imprisonment when Chittaranjan was shown as dead and High Court was invoked to grant bail for the others. Attempts to treat the case as a case of suicide was galore in the High Court when bail was granted. Patra raised allegation of bribe against the judge who granted bail oblivious of the murder angle that gave birth to contempt of court proceeding against Patra. However, as Patra continued harping on his point, a special bench was created to adjudicate upon the case and deliver the judgment.

Patra is conducting his own case before this special bench. But sequences are such that he apprehends that impartial justice may not be made available to him.

He seems aggrieved by two factors. One: lackluster prosecution and two: open observation of a member of the special bench that makes him suspect that the judge is prejudiced against him.

On the second factor, he has preferred a written statement countering the judge’s observation. The statement is sent not only to the High Court itself, but also to the Chief Justice of India and President of the country and many others including the press.

Patra has alleged that on 18.02.2011 during the submissions of the state Counsel in support of State Appeal in the matter, Justice Valla took adverse view by pointing out from the evidence of PW-11 (Patra himself) that he (Patra) has not stated many facts in his 161 statement which he had deposed before the Court. On the other hand, the judge asked the state counsel to pray for the conviction of accused/convicted either under Sec.302 or 304-B, IPC as there cannot be conviction on both the Sections. Delay by the I.O. in the recording of 161 statements of PWs 11, 12 & 13 and in dispatching the report was another lacuna pointed out by the judge even as he observed that there was no cruelty on demand of dowry soon before death. These observations of the judge, Patra points out, are of cooly chaotic impact on prosecution.

In his statement, Patra has noted his reactions. He has quoted authorities to say,
“(A) FIR is not an encyclopedia of facts as in AIR 2006 SC 302, para-37; AIR 1990 SC 658; AIR 1997 SC 318; (1998) 14 OCR 571; AIR 2010 SC 849, para-17 and AIR 2010 SC 3506, para-5.
(B) (i) 161 statement is a brief statement.
(ii) It cannot contain all the facts deposed before the Court.
(iii) Witnesses have no control over I.O.
(iv) Omission in 161 statement is not contradiction. Sec: AIR 1996 SC 1393, para- 7; AIR 1979 SC 1234, para-3; 1993 Cri. L.J. 1736 (All); AIR 2003 SC 282, para-13; AIR 2010 SC 3071, para-8; AIR 2010 SC 3718, para-71.
(C) Conviction can be under both the Sections-302 and 304-B and 498-A, IPC. See:  AIR 2009 SC 1454, para-21, AIR 2009 SC 1928, para-7;
(D) Defective investigation cannot fail justice. See: AIR 2003 SC 1164, Para-15; AIR  1999 SC 644, para-8; AIR 1998 SC 1850, Para-13; AIR 2004 SC 1920, para-5;  AIR 2004 SC 2329, para-13; AIR 2004 SC 2329, para-12; AIR 2006 SC 1367,  para-38; 2004 AIR SCW 1609, para-5 and AIR 2010 SC 3718, para-44.
(E) There was cruelty on demand of dowry soon before death as per application of   principles of Justice as in AIR 2000 SC 2988, para-33; AIR 1984 SC 1622, para-  21(2), 21(5); AIR 2000 SC 2324, paras-14,15,16; AIR 2003 SC 809, para-22; AIR  2009 SC 1238, para-14; AIR 2007 SC 107, para-11; AIR 2008 SC 1982, para-19;  (2008) 39 OCR (SC) 520, paras-11,15,18,19,20; AIR 2008 SC 982, para-10.

Interpretation of Law is individual. Patra may be or may not be right in his interpretation of Law.

He has used certain words to vent out his heart that look very harsh and I have no hesitation in saying that those words should best have been avoided. But taking into consideration the sobbing soul of a father who has been crying since 1995 for punishment to the murderers of his daughter, his words do not seem deliberate.

As the Chief Minister had told the Assembly, Sahu family is rich and highly influential.

If judiciary fails to expeditiously punish them for the crime of murder committed against a bride, it may be guessed by the aggrieved father of the murdered bride that they are protected because of their richness, high connections and influence.

Let it not happen.

Judges Should Desist from Making Farce of Their Power to Grant Bail

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

A judge has granted anticipatory bail to all the accused persons that were in eyes of vigilance involved in supply of poisonous split pulses to school going children and poor pregnant women of Orissa by the suppliers of their choice.

Several looters of Orissa’s mines and minerals are enjoying free life because another judge had granted them bail immediately as they wanted.

A man like the author of “Ganatantra Bancha’a”, Narayan Patra has been spewing suspicion on judges in Orissa as dowry-hungry in-laws of his daughter, who tortured and killed her, are kept enlarged on bail for about a decade sans punishment for the crime committed.

These fellows are beneficiaries of judges’ power to grant bails to whosoever accused they like to set free.

Orissa is not the only land where this is happening. Through out India, unsocial elements are fetching bails and hoodwinking law.

Many menacing criminals have escaped law by taking the benefit of anticipatory or post-arrest bail and even the laws have failed to punish them during their entire lifetime.

There are instances when the State having failed to punish bailed out criminals, prosecution has either been withdrawn or allowed to end under plea of old age of the accused.

Orissa’s Harekrishna Mahtab is an instance of how court’s power to grant bail had helped a political leader, accused of serious corruption, favoritism and nepotism, could lead a free life till he breathed his last without any punishment.

Earlier I have argued in these pages that the judiciary errs in saying that till proved guilty every accused is innocent. The real and correct ethics behind bail is that till proved innocent every accused is guilty. Our judiciary is in constant error by not accepting this reality.

If the wrongful interpretation of bail, which now reigns over the domain of justice system, is not stopped, in interest of justice to the people affected by the crime, the judges need to stipulate a period for the accused, enlarged on anticipatory or post-arrest bail, to prove that he / she is not guilty of the charges. Beyond that stipulated period, the bail order, as and when granted, must stand automatically devoid of strength.

As is the axiom that behind every successful man there is a woman, behind every invincible criminal there is a judge or a group of judges that bestows upon him or her the boon of bails.

Judiciary must desist from making a farce of its right to grant bails to accused persons if the people’s faith in judiciary must be preserved.

Revenue Minister Should Learn Not Be Irresponsible


Through a TV channel known as ruling party MP Baijayant Panda’s own, Revenue Minister Surya Narayan Patra told this evening that members of Opposition in Orissa Assembly deserve dismissal from the House for their unruly conduct. But, to their good luck, a gentleman like Naveen Patnaik is the Chief Minister and therefore they are not dismissed, said he.

Patra used the Khola Katha program of OTV to spew out his exhaust.

Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh, participating on the same platform was shocked that the State has a Revenue Minister who considers the Speaker subservient to the Chief Minister so much that he could have dismissed the Opposition members had the CM so desired.

Tomorrow when the Orissa Assembly resumes its budget session, what would be the day may be portended from the Revenue Minister’s aforesaid assertions.

Orissa needs serious legislative mind to extricate itself from the darkness she has been pushed into.

And, so, instead of acting agent provocateur, the Revenue Minister should better have learned how not to be irresponsible in dealing with matters that affect the Sate so seriously.

Media as an Entity and Freedom of Expression as a Fundamental Right are under Grave Threat from the Ruling Establishment in Orissa: MUFP White Paper

Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP), for the first time in our history, has brought out a White Paper on attack on Press in the State, after it was adopted in its Media Advisory Council and has formally released it for the public. For documentation, we post the Paper here below:

The Background:

Stray attacks on individual journalists by the powers that be have long ceased to raise eyebrows in Orissa, just as it has done in the rest of the country. But in the last five years, the attacks have become more frequent, more widespread and more vicious. A distinct pattern has begun to emerge in the targeting of journalists in the state. It is no more directed at the stray journalist toeing a stridently anti-government line; it is now a systematic attempt to identify and punish all journalists or groups of journalists, who may have an opinion that may not be to the liking of the ruling political and bureaucratic class. Muzzling voices of dissent has never been more brazen.
The assault on the Freedom of the Press has become particularly vicious in the last two years.

Journalists have been hounded; assaulted; insulted; humiliated; put on surveillance; beaten up (either by goons or by the police and sometimes by both); charged with ‘sedition’ and ‘waging war against the State’ and much worse. Even lady reporters have not been spared. There is an audacity on display, which is deeply worrying in a functioning democracy. It is as if the political-bureaucratic-corporate class has got a firm assurance from someone that nothing will happen to them no matter how brazen the attack is. That is why Bhubaneswar Police Commissionerate could single out a particular journalist of a leading Oriya daily and bar his entry into a Press Meet by the Commissioner; or the supposedly ‘long’ arm of the law stops well short of a minister’s son – despite assaulting a journalist in full public view and being named in the FIR lodged by the concerned journalist.
A major reason behind the spurt in attacks on media persons is the state government’s growing intolerance of any view that does not toe the government line on corporate and mining interests –particularly those dealing in precious metals like iron ore and bauxite. These companies, we are told, will usher in ‘rapid development’, create enormous employment opportunities and make Orissa a land of milk and honey. There is a concerted effort to manufacture consensus on the need to roll out the red carpet to these companies and turn a blind eye to their flagrant violation of all laws and norms of civilized corporate behavior. When media persons refuse to buy this line and raise questions on the acts of omission and commission by the government and the corporates, the wrath of the government falls on them like a ton of bricks.
There are many instances where the police have actively colluded with vested interest groups and slapped concocted charges against scribes who dare to question the powers that be. In one such case, a reporter has had to languish in jail for three months. In most cases, the perpetrators of crimes against media persons have been allowed to go scot-free.

Running parallel to the attacks on individual journalists is a systematic ongoing exercise to deny access to any information that might cause embarrassment to the government of the day. In the Vedanta University case, for example, the government not only sought to discredit the institution of LOKPAL by blaming it for leaking its report indicting the government, but also added insult to injury by daring it to slap cases against those media organizations which published, in part or whole, the leaked report.
In the age of “Wikileaks” and Julian Assange, attempts to punish the media for publishing what is strictly not a government document are nothing short of laughable. In the case of the leak of the CAG report on the telecom scandal, there may have been calls for action against the CAG (nobody demanded action against the media houses which broke the story, mind you!) by a few loudmouths of the ruling UPA establishment. But the government was not foolish enough to heed their call as the Naveen Patnaik government appears to have done. It is as if the Lokpal and the media had touched a ‘raw nerve’.
In short, the media as an entity and Freedom of Speech and expression as a fundamental right are under grave threat from the ruling establishment.
Birth of MUFP
It goes without saying that fighting this emerging monster is everybody’s business – everybody, who has something to do with the media; reporters, sub editors, camerapersons, anchors, backroom staff, besides stringers, part timers and even freelancers, who write regularly.
There is no dearth of journalists’ organizations and unions in Odisha and many of them are doing a commendable job in ensuring that journalists get a better deal from their employers and the government.
But there is something beyond the bread and butter issues, which concern all mediapersons: freedom of speech and an unfettered right to hold or express a view or an opinion no matter who finds it unpalatable. The Unions, by their very nature, are not really cut out to handle such issues, though they can contribute significantly to the effort.
This is why the need for an organisation like Media Unity fro Freedom of Speech – MUFP, in short – was felt by a group of senior, like minded journalists.

Though attacks on journalists have been protested even before, it was the arrest and long incarceration of Laxman Choudhury, the Mohana Reporter of Sambad, under the charges of ‘sedition’ and ‘waging war against the State’, which hastened the birth of MUFP. The sheer preposterousness of the government act called for a closing of ranks among all journalists of the state and a spirited show of unity and solidarity that would tell the government in no uncertain terms that it cannot take the media for granted.

And that precisely is how things actually have panned out. In a short while, MUFP has emerged as a forum for, of and by media persons – and the term is used in its widest possible meaning – to uphold and protect our precious Freedom of Speech and eliminate all threats to it – whether from the government, the ruling party, their cohorts, corporate mafia or others – in a peaceful and democratic way. The basic idea was to sink our individual differences and present a united front when it comes to issues of the Freedom of Speech because it is too precious to be frittered away by fighting our own battles while the ruling clique gets more and more emboldened.

Since its inception the MUFP has stood up strongly and unitedly against every reported case of attacks on media persons and expressed solidarity with the affected media persons irrespective of how big or small the media organizations they work for, are.

MUFP has helped make Freedom of Speech an issue cutting across competing media organizations. Not long ago, an attack on a reporter of one organization would go unreported or underreported in a rival organization. It is a matter of no small satisfaction that in the short period of its existence, MUFP has managed to reverse this trend. Why, it has done the unthinkable by bringing Editors of all major dailies and television channels – many of them fierce professional rivals – on one platform.

The MUFP was conceived as a broad platform that would unite each and every person connected with media, irrespective of their affiliation to this or that trade union, to stand up against all forms of attacks against the freedom and dignity of press and to express support and solidarity with any media person in any part of Orissa, who faces attacks while exercising his/her inalienable right to operate and report freely without any unreasonable obstacles or fear of attacks.

In tune with the basic idea behind its formation, MUFP has consciously done away with formalities and hierarchies, which has been the bane of many organizations. It is not even a registered organization and functions through a Presidium comprising eight senior journalists known for their professional integrity. It has no membership fees and raises funds by way of voluntary contributions only from members as and when the need arises.
The novelty does not stop at that; it also permeates the methods of protest. Whenever and wherever in the state a media person or the media as a whole is attacked, members are invited by the Presidium – mostly through emails and SMSes – to gather under what has come to be known as the Freedom Tree in front of Soochana Bhavan (now renamed Jaydev Bhavan) to show solidarity and protest peacefully through placards, banners and other democratic methods. Whenever warranted, a written memorandum is prepared by the Presidium and handed over to the concerned authorities which, in most cases, happens to be the Chief Minister since he handles the Home portfolio.
There have been far too many attacks on the media in the recent past. What is more, the attacks are becoming more frequent and audacious by the day. Some of the major reported incidents of attack on and harassment of the media have been listed below in chronological order:

24 February, 2005:

Keerti Chandra Sahu of Anupam Bharat was arrested by the police on 14 February 2004 at Kashipur u/s 124-A(sedition), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 506 (Criminal intimidation. His fault: he had dared to report the plight of the tribals and the havoc that Utkal Alumina Plant of the Aditya Birla group was causing to their lives and livelihoods. In a move that went on to set the tone for the subsequent years, he was arraigned for his alleged ‘links with the Maoists’, arrested and jailed.
May 2007
The ‘crime’ of Khuturam Sunani and Meghanad Kharsel was a little different. They had committed the blasphemy of reporting that in the land of sugar and honey that Odisha is, there are tribals in Sinapalli block of Khariar district who were living on soft dolomite stones called jhikri in local parlance. In May 2007, they were charged under sections 124-A (sedition) for their supposed attempt to ‘destabilize’ the government through reporting this ugly truth. Even Section 417 of IPC (cheating) was slapped against them.
8 December, 2008:
Lenin Ray edits Nissan, a radical journal in Odia. But the Jagatsinghpur SP thought otherwise. He was convinced that it was a Maoist mouthpiece. Following the publication of a booklet titled ʻDharma Namare Kandhamalare Rakta Nadiʼ, which exposed the nefarious games religious extremists play, police arrested him on 8 December 2008 u/s 153 A (a) & (b), 295A and 34 of IPC. Though released on bail by the Sessions court on 17 December 2009, Ray is saddled with stringent conditions that are not at all conducive to the exercise of his Freedom of Speech.
20 September, 2009:
The ubiquitous Sections 124-A (sedition) as well as 120-A (criminal conspiracy) also came in handy in the case of Laxman Choudhury, the Sambad reporter in Mohana, who was arrested by the officer in-charge of Mohana PS on Sept 20, 2009 ostensibly for being the intended recipient (not the actual recipient) of some Maoist literature. But the actual reason was his reporting of the OIC’s nexus with ganja traders of the area. He had to suffer in jail for 79 days before conscientious senior advocate Jagannath Patnaik fought his case gratis in the High Court to secure his release. The supreme irony was the concerned officer was arrested by vigilance sleuths while accepting a bribe from a notorious ganja trader.
September 2009:
In September 2009, Sriharsha Mishra and Kirna Mishra, two journalists from Oriya daily ʻAromv’, were abused and assaulted by the security guard of the Jharsaguda Collector, aided, abetted and instigated by the Collector himself for daring to ask him why he had not yet visited the villages where a number of farmers had committed suicide and what the administration had done about the death of farmers in the district.
7 November, 2009:
Jagannath Bastia, reporrter of Oriya daily Samaj at Puri, is known for having exposed land-grabbing by ruling party leaders and officers of the Puri civic body. He has alsoreported extensively on the open and flagrant violation of High Court Orders in the matter. He was attacked on November 7, 2009 allegedly by the supporters of ruling party legislator and ex-Speaker Maheswar Mohanty. He was hit on the head while returning home from the bureau office and was left bleeding on the road, presumably to die. Rescued by passers by, he was hospitalized in a critical condition. He duly filed an FIR, but nothing has come out of it.
3 January, 2010:
Nabarangpur District Collector Roopa Mishra abused Samaj reporter Banka Bihari Bishoi in the presence of the SP of the district when he was, in pursuit of his professional duty, talking with the District Welfare Officer, Mukund Nihal on January 3, 2010, in the collectorʼs office. She took the journalist to task for being miserly with the publication of her pictures in the Samaj and threatened him with dire consequences if he did not mend his ways. She even used her official powers to oust him from the office premises. This was certainly the height of arrogance, but the bureaucrat-run government could not care less.
9 January, 2010:
On 9 January 2010, the city reporters of Oriya daily Aaromv were denied access to the venue of the 15th National Youth Festival held at the Kalinga Stadium under the plea that Police bosses dislike the stance of the paper. Tomorrow, policemen could stop a journalist from covering an important event because they or their bosses don’t like his/her face.
6 February, 2010:
Ruling party Sarpanch of Dhaipur Gram Panchayat under Athgarh block, Premananda Gochchayat, was executing the Baikani Water Reservoir Project works, an NREGA project, using JCB machines and tractors instead of engaging job-card holders. When Dinesh Das (The Pioneer) and Ashok Pradhan (Athgarh Prahari) went to the spot on 6 February 2010 to probe the matter, Gochhayat and his gang of goons attempted to murder them. The Government is silent on the issue.
13 February, 2010:
Senior lady freelance journalist Bolan Gangopadyaya, who contributes regularly to Ananda Bazar Patrika of Kolkata, on her way to Niyamgiri to collect on the spot information, was detained at Muniguda Police Station on February 13, 2010. She was released only after tremendous pressure put by media organizations and civil liberties groups.
20 February, 2010:
As reported on February 20, 2010, Abhay Pati of OTV was manhandled by the Manager of Cuttack Urban Co-operative Bank, Jajpur, Gour Prasad Das, when he was covering a vigilance raid on the banker’s house. Police is sleeping over Patiʼs complaint.
11 March, 2010:
Dandapani Mohapatra, Southern Orissaʼs crusader against corruption and nepotism, was absent when his residence at Chhatrapur raided on March 11, 2010 by five vanloads of police personnel drawn from five police stations of Ganjam district without asearch warrant, under the misconceived suspicion that he has links with the Naxals. As the terrorized family tried to fathom what was happening, they destroyed rare journals and documents collected by Mohapatra and forced his son and the localSarapanch to sign on blank papers. No action has been taken against the police officers,who had led this unauthorized raid and vandalized the intellectual properties the authorand journalist had collected so painstakingly.
18 March, 2010:
On March 16, 2010, when the journalists were covering a clash between members of the ruling Biju Janta Dal (BJD) and the opposition Congress party in Bhaapur Block of Nayagarh district, they were attacked by BJD supporters. They appealed to the policemen present at the spot to rescue them from the attackers, but the police chose to protect the perpetrators rather than the victims.
30 March, 2010:
Three journalists, Amulya Kumar Pati of the New Indian Express, and Manas Jena and Sujit Mullick, who work for Oriya newspapers, were assaulted in the presence of the police on March 30, 2010 in Kalinga Nagar by supporters of the local MLA and state Finance Minister Prafulla Chandra Ghadei for daring to cover a police action involving lathi-charge and firing on agitating people from Baligotha, Gobarghati and other villages.
The villagers were opposing the construction of a common corridor in the area. Several villagers who were badly injured and had sustained bullet injuries were too frightened to seek medical help and this was what the journalists went to cover.
Pati filed an FIR naming Ghadei’s son, Pritiranjan Ghadei and Babuli Haiburu, in charge of the Tata transit camp along with three others. Two persons were arrested in connection with the incident, but the others mentioned in the FIR, including Pritiranjan Ghadei and Babuli Haiburn, continue to roam free.
March 2010:

In deciding a complaint filed by Dwarika Mohan Mishra on March 17, 2010, Orissa Lokpal, Justice P.K.Patra, held that allocation of land to Anil Agrawal Foundation for Vedanta University was absolutely illegal. When the media gave the decision appropriate coverage, an officially sponsored criminal conspiracy sought to shoot the messenger by asking for action against the media houses, which had reported the Lokapal report, which was till to be laid in the Assembly. Accordingly, the Secretary of the controlling PGPA department wrote to the Lokpal to nitiate action against the media persons and media organization that published his verdict, arbitrarily claiming the same as a recommendation coming within the privilegesof the Government. The Lokpal had received this communication on April 6, 2010.
22 April, 2010:
In the night of April 22, 2010, as many as ten Bhubaneswar based journalists representing different newspapers and television channels were severely beaten up by the management and security guards of Silicon Institute of Technology, a private educational institute, when they went there to cover studentsʼ protest against the death of a student, allegedly due to food poisoning, after taking a meal in the campus canteen. They sustained serious injuries and their cameras were either snatched away or damaged in the attack. Orissa Private Engineering College Association (OPECA)pressurized the police to drop charges under 307 IPC (attempt to murder) when some of the assailants were apprehended. Police did not produce the case diary before the court, which led to their release on bail.

29 April, 2010:
On 29 April, 2010, Chandrakanta Das, a journalist with the Oriya daily Dharitri, was assaulted by a group of people because he had reported a case of robbery. Despite a protest by the Jagatsinghpur Journalistsʼ Association on 5 May, no action was taken against the perpetrator of the attack.
6 May, 2010:
A vigilance team inquired into reported irregularities in MGNREGS in village Suninda of Puri district after the Balanga based reporter of Khabar, Biranjan Mallik exposed it. On May 6, 2010, the local Sarapanch Ashok Kumar Dash, architect of the irregularities, picked up Mallik and with the help of a gang of goons, tied him to a tree and thrashed him black and blue. Local journalists and general public rescued Mallik and Balanga police registered a case under Prevention of Atrocities Act. But the accused Sarapanchis still at large as he belongs to the ruling BJD.
8 May, 2010:
Anugul based ETV reporter Jagadananda Pradhan sustained severe injuries when he was brutally attacked by some Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) jawans. The uniformed attackers completely destroyed his camera when he was capturing their mass attack on a truck driver for reasons best known to them. The attack was so ghastly that the general public of Angul observed a complete shut-down in the town to protest the attack the next day. The culprits, who brutalized a truck driver and the Press on May 8, 2010 have not been subjected to any penal proceeding so far.
Prasanta Patnaik:
“I fear the police and corporate, including the education mafias – against whom I have raised my voice in different forums – have joined hands to victimize me and my family members by hatching a deep-rooted conspiracy against me. Since such people, including the police, have got money power, muscle power and political power, I fear, they might hatch some conspiracy to harass/defame/ assault me at the first available opportunity to silence my voice against corruption, mafia raj, nepotism and criminalization in different fronts.”

This was how Prasanta Patnaik of India TV, presiding spokesman of MUFP, chose to express his agony to the police boss on May 10, 2010 when his residence was put under secret surveillance after he focused on the plight of the people and the journalists in Kalinga Nagar and refused to be misled in the matter of SIT attack on media persons. On receipt of the above communication, the alarming presence of plain-clothes policemen outside his residence was of course silently withdrawn; but the damage it had cause to the peace and tranquility of his living environment serves as a reminder of how unsafe has a journalist’s life become in Orissa.
31 May 2010:
In MKCG Medical College, Berhampur, a patient died on the operation table, allegedly because of an anesthesia overdose when students, instead of proper surgeons, were conducting the surgery. This led to a clash between the dead patient’s relatives and the medicos. Berhampur based reporters rushed to the spot. When they were covering the clash, medicos attacked the media persons and robbed them of their cameras and cash, leaving many of them bleeding. The journalists’ complaint before Baidyanathpur PS went unheeded; they organized protest rallies, which prompted the police into action. But instead of prosecuting the miscreant medicos, police harped on compromise as any action against the medicos was not acceptable to the party in power. Since May 31, 2010, the law breakers in the white garb of medicos have been evading the law as the law-keepers have no respect for freedom of press.
9 June, 2010:
Journalist Akhand, the Kanak TV man at Pipili in the district of Puri, was brutally attacked by a lower level leader of ruling BJD, Pravakar Behera because he had brought into the open the latter’s illicit timber trade, specifically when a highly value ancient tree fell prey to his avarice. Behera attempted to murder Akhand on June 9, 2010. Police has been sleeping over the FIR filed by Akhand ever since.
9 June, 2010:
Associates of an accused in a local criminal case forced their way into the house of Bhabani Das, a photographer working for Dharitri and roughed up his younger brother on June 9, 2010. They also threatened his family members with dire consequence, if Das’ reportage went against their boss in future. A complaint was lodged with the Airfield police station but the accused goons, though identified, are still at large.
1 July, 2010:
Suryamani Mishra, working with Khabar at Bubaneswar, was attacked by a gang of unidentified goons while returning from workplace in the night of July 1, 2010. Police refused to act on his complaint claiming that the attack was a random act of drunkards, even though it was not difficult to guess who must be the assaulters as it was known in the locality that certain real-estate mafia / builder and communal elements had a grouse about being exposed by him.
13 July, 2010:
A lady reporter (name withheld) of ETV Oriya, stationed at Bhubaneswar and her accompanying cameraman Debasis Mallik were assigned to cover the ISKCON car festival on July 13, 2010. Indian Reserve Battalion was in charge of peace-keeping.
A sepoy thereof, identified as Nrusingh Charan Sahu, molested her near the deity’s car. With she protested sharply, another sepoy joined Mallik and tried to join in the ‘fun’ by molesting the lady journalist. Debasis rushed to her rescue while keeping the camera focused on the ghastly offense. He was brutally beaten up and his camera was smashed into pieces to destroy the recorded evidence. Despite the molested journalist having identified the molesters in the presence of Bhubaneswar DCP Himansu Lal, police has entertained a counter FIR filed by the sepoys and tried to spoil the case.
23 July, 2010:
Samaj reporter Ramnarayan Das was brutally attacked on July 23, 2010 by Subas Dalasinghroy, former Sarapanch of Nirakarpur in the district of Khurda while covering the official response to a self-immolation that a social worker had declared to commit in front of the RI office in a bid to wake up the administration to save the local eco-system from the mining mafia. The Tahsildar was present on the spot. A case was lodged u/s 294,323,324 and 506 IPC, but no follow-up action has yet been taken.
16 September, 2010:
n a presumably cooked up complaint raised eight months after an alleged offense, a pack of plainclothes Bhubaneswar Police hijacked the publisher of Suryaprava, Bikash Swain on September 16, 2010 when he was driving to a hospital to attend to his terminally ill father and sent him to judicial remand sans any legal investigation. In a conference of journalists and civil society leaders, trade unionists and lawyers, political leaders and social workers, convened by MUFP the next day to discuss Swain’s arrest in the context of freedom of Press, participants were of the clear view that he was framed up by police as his paper had been steadfastly focusing on corruption in the administration.
26 October, 2010:
On October 26, 2010, EPA weekly, a premier weekly of Bhubaneswar published by Eastern Press Agency was attacked by a gang of women activists belonging to one NGO called ‘Maa Ghara’ aggrieved as they allegedly were over a published report. Shunning all available legal avenues where their stand could have been tested on the matrix of law and reality, they tried to gag the publication by their obnoxious attack on its office. Police did not act diligently on the FIR filed by its editor Anil Kumar Mishra to the detriment of the freedom of the press.
21 November, 2010:
ETV news reporter at Puri, Srikanta Sahoo was keelhauled by Orissa State Armed Police personnel while covering Suna Vesha festival of Lord Jagannatha on November 21, 2010. His press identity card was also destroyed. Police refused to register the FIR filed by Sahoo. SP, Puri did not respond.
12 January, 2011:
Twin City Commissioner of Police held a press conference on January 12, 2011 in the office of his Deputy. Dharitri reporter Somanath Sahu was denied entry into the press meet and was threatened with dire consequences if he did not go out. The DCP manhandled Sahu and told him that Commissioner B.K.Sharma had instructed him and other officers not to allow any correspondent of Dharitri to attend the press conference.
13 January, 2011:
A herd of miscreants identified as members of the ruling BJD launched a brutal attack on media persons on January 13, 2011 inside the campus of Ravenshaw University, Cuttack, when they were collecting information on attack on foreign students by the Students’ union president with the help of ruling party hoodlums. Police was reluctant to take any action. It was only after the media persons sat in dharana in protest against police inaction that the student union president was arrested.

4 February  1011

Chairman of the Notified Area Council, Pipili, Sk. Babu, who belongs to the ruling BJD, was exposed in Sambad for corruption in NAC administration and hence attempted to murder its reporter Rajat Ranjan Dash in a pre-planned manner on February 4, 1011 in which ruling party hooligans namely Md. Ashikur Rahaman, Md. Yusuf, Basabanta

Das alias Bichi and Pravat Sethi, Councilor of the N.A.C. also actively aided and abetted. After savagely whacking him, with Babu putting his pistol (licensed or not, not known) on his head, they robbed Dash of his gold chain, three mobile phones and cash worth Rupees 12,500/- and then stripped him naked and  paraded him on the streets when local people rushed to his rescue and saved him from the grip of death.

28 February, 2011:
MBC TV Reporter Kiran and cameraperson Prasanta were chased and beaten up by ruling party goons in the presence of Agriculture minister Damodar Rout and local BJD MLA Prabhat Tripathy while they were covering a black flag demonstration by BJP workers at a function in Banki. The assailants beat up the journalist and the cameraperson and tried to snatch the shot footage away.
The culprits named in the FIR filed by the two journalist were perfunctorily arrested and immediately let off on bail, making a mockery of the serious charges.
On the same day, 28 February, OTV reporter NM Baisakh and his cameraman Anup Ray were beaten up by anti-social elements in Paradeep when they were covering a protest dharana outside the IOCL main gate by local people demanding jobs and compensation. The anti-socials who had come with lethal weapons to attack the protesters targeted the OTV team to prevent them from covering their criminal action. They also snatched away the camera from them to destroy visual evidence of their criminal action.