RPF must have to return the Cassette; prompt punishment to Inspector must be a must

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

RPF authorities have suspended their Bhubaneswar Inspector Sanjay Kumar Swain, who deserves to be prosecuted for hooliganism and attempt to murder, besides dismissal.

After the suspension order was issued on the spot last evening, people have allowed trains to move with effect from 9 PM. But, now, the department must move to dismiss him with retrospective effect.

Puri-Durg Express train, which was to reach Bhubaneswar at 6.40 PM on June 28, reached on 29th at 10 AM almost 16 hours behind the schedule. As is railway’s wont, the passengers were fed with announcement of short duration delay throughout the entire period, as a result of which, leaving the platform for refreshment was not even possible for them. It had ignited acrid protests and being informed of this, media had reached the Station to cover the matter.

When Kanak TV crew was recording police misbehavior to railway passengers that were expressing their natural discontentment over the harassment they were subjected to, Inspector Swain was found leading a rowdy pack of railway police in intimidating and attacking the victims of railway irresponsibility.

He was even misbehaving with the lady protesters and was found pulling their cloths, oblivious of where his unruly hands were touching their bodies. All on a sudden he marked that his ugly manners were captured in Kanak TV camera.

He rushed to the cameraman like a mad dog, thrashed the cameraman and snatched away the cassette from the camera, causing severe damage to it in front of him and the reporter. As they protested, he asked his accompanying pack of RPF Jawans to drag them to their PS. In addition to the two, the RPF dragged 10 passengers to the police station, where the two TV journalists were mercilessly beaten up.

Bhubaneswar scribes and general public rushed to the railway station seeking their immediate release. As Swain refused to respond, public resentment metamorphosed into track blockade, forcing cancellation of trains such as Chhatrapur-Bhubaneswar, Dibrugad-Chenai, Bhubaneswar-Palasa, Bhubaneswar-Jagdalpur etc.

Rowdiest conduct of Swain continued to aggravate the situation and the major Station drowned in total chaos. RPF authorities had to put the hooligan Inspector under suspension with immediate effect.

Chief of Eastern Media Ltd that owns Kanak TV, Sri Soumy Ranjan Patnaik has demanded for return of the video cassette taken away by Swain.

To us, not only the cassette must have to be returned, but also the damaged camera must have to be replaced with a new camera of its original make.

But, should the matter end here?

We advise the administration to review if a hooligan like Swain should continue in suspended animation even.

We strongly suggest, he should be subjected to prompt investigation to find out what other punishment should be given to him over and above dismissal from service.

His offenses are witnessed by the authorities before putting him under suspension. No other mode of prosecution is necessary. The only necessity is punishing him with dismissal as his hooliganism calls for his ejection from police service. What other punishment he deserves should be determined by way of further action, so that other goons in uniform should learn how to stay orderly.

Thieves always see their enemies in the Moon

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Journalist Satya Prakash Nayak of Zee-Kalinga, who has been aptly, ably and fearlessly exposing the misrule that has engulfed Orissa, has posted the following words in social media: FaceBook.

In these testing times, it is indeed tough to tread on the path of ‘SATYAPATH’….After sincere and truthful journalistic career and scores of investigative stories, causing high impact, a commoner like me has attracted the wrath of the high and mighty. Sometimes my family is probed under the cover of ”regular inspection”. Sometimes I get threat calls that I shall be killed or thrown behind bars under false case of woman harassment. These forces however cannot deter my spirit. Coz my ISHWAR or PRABHU is on my side.I am ready to do Satya Ra Samna….Are you with me?

Our answer is the strongest ever possible: YES.

We know, ever since Naveen Patnaik has taken over Orissa, attack on Press has become as frequent as menacing. Attack on Journalists by criminals under the nose of the police,leading even to annihilation of some is as rampant in Orissa as arresting and torturing uncompromising ones under charges of sedition. In submitting a well documented White Paper on such menacing attack on Press, Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) had cited many instances including what happened to Kirti Chandra Sahu, Khuturam Sunani,  Meghanad Kharsel , Lenin Ray, Laxman Choudhury, Sriharsha Mishra,  Kirana Mishra, Jagannath Bastia, Banka Bihari Bishoi, Dinesh Das , Ashok Pradhan, Bolan Gangopadyaya, Abhay Pati, Dandapani Mohapatra,  Amulya Kumar Pati, Manas Jena, Sujit Mullick, Chandrakanta Das, Biranjan Mallik, Jagadananda Pradhan, Prasanta Patnaik, Akhand, Bhabani Das, Suryamani Mishra, Debasis Mallik, Ramnarayan Das, Srikanta Sahoo, Somanath Sahu, Kiran,  Prasanta, NM Baisakh, Anup Ray and Rajat Ranjan Das. A lady journalist – name kept hidden – was even molested by uniformed men at ISCON car festival, Bhubaneswar, such has become congenial the climate to crime against the scribes in Orissa. Attack on individual journalists apart media organizations are also being attacked by hooligans. An instance is attack on EPA weekly at Bhubaneswar.

The White Paper on Attack on Press in Orissa mentioned. “A major reason behind the spurt in attacks on media persons in Orissa is the state government’s growing intolerance to 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, people 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” (MUFP White Paper released on March 5, 2011)

The attempt to intimidate Satya Prakash Nayak is the latest instance of threat to Freedom of Press in Orissa. Thieves always see their enemies in the Moon. When Satya has been exposing the misrule that has engulfed Orissa, who is he that is seeing his enemy in Satya Prakash? Overwhelmed by attack on Press, for the first time in history of Orissa, members of Press had boycotted on records the proceedings of the Assembly in July 2010 and the whole House had expressed agony over the Government’s failure to protect the Press. We had suggested that a specific Law be enacted to ensure safety of journalists. Till date the politicians have stayed away from creating such a legislation. The following topic carries our suggestion. It was captioned:

Needed is a Law against attack on Press

Minister’s Tussle with Media: Will the Chief Minister Please Pay Attention?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

In the history of Press in Orissa, September 15, 2014 shall be marked as a black day; because, for the first time in the life of the State, on this day, a Cabinet Minister attacked media in his official chamber in the Secretariat that generated a skirmish to the shock and chagrin of all those who believe that Ministers in a democracy are magnanimous enough never to cause alarm in the Press, despite being confronted with unpalatable questions and provocative innuendoes.

Minister Bijayshree Routray was in acrimonious mood even before entering into the Secretariat; because, evidently he had resorted to browbeating when approached by a TV journalist for update, if any, on land scam rocking the State.

And, in the Secretariat, as TV journalists wanted update on a former minister’s demands for action against land scam offenders, all decency, decorum, discipline and patience expected of a cabinet minister, were discarded under such rush of anger that the consequential skirmish – heretofore never seen – has smeared the face of administration that can hardly be cleansed.

For better appreciation of what happened on September 15, ORISSA MATTERS report dated September 18, 2014 may help. Click HERE to reach the report.

Sad, instead of normalizing the situation with the Chief Minister calling the entire Bhubaneswar Press to an interaction where a norm could have been mutually promoted to eliminate any possibility of repetition of the September 15 showoff, restriction has been imposed on movement of journalists in the Secretariat, where, within or without knowledge of the Chief Minister, denial of entry to CMO even to State accredited journalists has already been in force ever since certain officials there have started dazzling as ‘Super Chief Minister’.

In these pages the syndrome is earlier exposed; yet the Chief Minister has stayed away from the glorious and magnificent tradition his predecessors in the august office had established and maintained in relationship with the Press.

Resultantly, journalists, not in good book of powers that be, feel threatened, alarmed and afflicted.

Democracy is clearly in decadence.

While holding that the journalists should not have crossed words with the acrimonious minister on September 15, I deem it my duty to say, it would be better if the Chief Minister appreciates that unless his colleagues in the cabinet are dissuaded from browbeating the Press as Bijayshree did on that day, the journalists, expect the blue-eyed-boys of powers that be, will continue to stay alarmed under constant fear of conniption any minister may come into any day confronted with any searching question and cause havoc, as well equipped with assaultive power a minister is in the rampart of his office. That shall harm the people.

Remedy lies in restoration of State Information Centre

Its remedy lies not in restricting the movement of media persons in the Secretariat, but in immediate restoration of the State Information Centre to its original stature and state.

The original purpose of the SIC (also named Soochana Bhawan) was to provide the journalists with a domain whereto Ministers and Government spokespersons were to come everyday to brief the journalists on all topics of public importance and to answer to their queries on all relevant matters.

But a former Secretary of Information and Public Relations Ajit Kumar Tripathy sabotaged the purpose of the SIC and converted it into Jayadev Bhawan to fit into his communal design to institutionalize a wrong notion that poet Jay Dev was a Brahmin Baishnav born in Kenduli near Bhubaneswar, though in reality the great love-lyricist of Orissa was a Sahayani Bauddhacharya, born in the now extinct village of Kendubilwa near Puri on the sea, probably where Bilweswar temple now stands. I have discussed Jay Dev in my mega research work ‘Sri Jaya Devanka Baisi Pahacha’ for anybody to see.

However, when a government building was erected for a specific purpose founded and inaugurated by a Chief Minister in cause of people’s right to be informed, a bureaucrat sabotaging that purpose taking advantage of his position as Secretary of Information was blatantly wrong.

This wrong is to be removed and the Press is to be given back its domain equipped with communication instruments and database as well as with a referral library as per original plan. At this SIC, when restored, ministers and official spokespersons will brief the Press, and all press conferences shall be held. The unused and dormant library lying exposed to elements in the Information directorate needs be shifted to SIC on its restoration where all the newspaper/media clippings, which the departmental information officers generate as a routine responsibility, should be archived in this building for journalistic references.

Rabindra Madap be renamed Jay Dev Bhawan

In the past, leaders of Orissa like Harekrushna Mahatab and Biju Patnaik were eager to keep the Bengalis pleased in order not to be adversely reported in national media, as all of the national newspapers with circulation in Orissa were being published from Calcutta. Therefore, they had deliberately named the first auditorium dedicated to music and dance in the capital city of Bhubaneswar by Rabindra Tagore. Orissa’s progressive intellectuals like poet Godavarish Mohapatra had vehemently opposed this, but people in power had their own notorious ability to bulldoze the conscience of the State.

When, therefore, Ajit Tripathy and his associates, in course of executing their hidden agenda to wipe out historicity of the Sahayani Jay Dev under torrents of concocted legends deliberately created by some Hindu chauvinists after his death, wanted to re-name the SIC as Jay Dev Bhawan, there was no visible objection to that from the general public, as the people of Orissa had always been nurturing a silent desire to overcome a grief they had been hit with, when the first hall of music and dance in Bhubaneswar had been named after the Bengali poet Rabindanath Tagore instead of the most popular poet Jay Dev of their own soil, who had epitomized Orissa’s music and dance. That grief was lessened by SIC getting the name of Jay Dev Bhawan.

Now, therefore, if the name Jay Dev Bhawan is to be retained, it should shift to Rabindra Mandap, which in turn, should shift to IDCOL auditorium, that goes without any person’s name.

Information manpower be properly used

After thus the SIC is again available to the Journalists, the government should promulgate a provision making it a must for the ministers to address the Press regularly here in all matters of their respective departments.

in absence of ministers, the departmental information officers should come prepared to meet the queries of journalists and the Secretary of a concerned department must be made to answer online through video conferencing any query that his information officer might not be properly equipped to answer.

The next step that the Government should take, is to recognize the State Information Service as a specialized service, run only by the information specialists, belonging to a distinct and distinguished cadre, under a Head of Department also belonging to the same cadre.

So, be it a must for the State Government to appoint only Information officers as Director of Information, whose unavoidable duty would be briefing the Press on any activity of administration as and when necessary.

If this advice is heeded to, there shall never be any conflict between any minister and media like the one seen on September 15 in the Secretariat Chamber of the Revenue Minister.

The Director of Information and Public Relations, to be thus appointed from the cadre of Information Service, being a specialist in information by education, training, re-orientation and experience, shall not only keep himself abreast of happenings in the State including progress of projects, to successfully meet the queries from media, but also shall guide his team of officers to stay ready with updates in every aspect of administration of the respective departments assigned to them, so that the people of the State cannot be devoid of ready information on any matter that matters to them.

The ignominious assignment to facilitate an appointment of a journalist with a minister, as provided for yesterday, is nothing but non-use of the highly specialized potency the Information Officers have.

Information manpower should not be misspent in hobnobbing between media and ministers.

They have a greater role to play. Let that begun with making the Director of Information and PR a cadre officer with a mission as mentioned above.

The September 15 skirmish between Revenue Minister and Media persons in the State Secretariat has irreparably damaged the image of the State. Let it not happen again and so, let the Journalists be given back the State Information Centre wherefrom they shall operate to the betterment of democracy.

Will the Chief Minister please pay his attention to this suggestion?

Skirmish in Secretariat: Minister made Mistake more than the Press

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

As Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) demanded public apology from Revenue Minister Bijoyshree Routroy for the Monday assault on Press in his official chamber in the Secretariat, under the ‘Freedom Tree’ in front of  Jaydev Bhawan  on September 16, the Minister told a hand-picked group of press persons at his residence that he was abused by the journalists instead.

He alleged that agents of land mafia in the guise of journalists had entered into his room forcefully and subjected him to pushing and knocking, as he refused to entertain them. He did not say who was or were agent(s) of land mafia amongst the journalists, if it was within his knowledge.

This being a serious allegation against media persons, the public is to know the truth.

We would like to produce two videos here.

The first one is a clip of his entrance into the Secretariat. In this he shouts at a TV journalist who was trying for an update, if possible, on official action on a notorious land scam that has been rocking the State. It bares the minister’s disposition and how contemptuous it is towards the media persons.

The second video is the records of how he behaved in his chamber. A former Minister of the State, Mr. Suresh Kumar Rautroy had met the Revenue Minister with a delegation in his chamber demanding stern action against the land looters amongst who are some known blue-eyed-boys of the Chief Minister. As usual, the TV journalists had gone into the room to watch the proceeding. As would be seen from the video, seated near the Minister, Mr. Sura Rautroy (as he popularly is known) apprised the TV journalists of his discussions with the minister during which the minister went into the rest room. As he came out, the journalists wanted his bytes. The video would show how the Minister suddenly went berserk. He even attacked a particular TV journalist, who had covered a land scandal live in which the Minister is involved.

To the Press he has said, “When I extended my hands to shut down their cameras, they pushed me and knocked down (CAMERA BAND KARIBAKU HATA BADHAIBA BELE SEMANE THELAPELA KALE) (Samaja, 17 September 2014, P.12, Cl. 5-6).

It is sad that the State is having such a political Government where ministers indulge in land grabbing, ministers indulge in chit fund swindling, ministers indulge in assault on media persons and in leveling reverse accusations to hoodwink the people, oblivious of how constitutional authorities like the Courts and CAG have stripping it layer by layer in mega scams like mining scam, water scam etcetera.

Clearly, in Monday skirmishes in his Secretariat chamber, the minister made mistakes more than the Press.

MUFP Demands Public Apology from Minister

The Media Unity for Freedom of Press ( MUFP )has, in a statement today, expressed deep shock and surprise over the incident involving a cabinet minister’s assault on media persons on duty on September 15, 2006 inside his secretariat chamber. The Minister Mr. Bijayshree Routray seems to have forgotten all ethics and manners while dealing with press persons. Media persons in Orissa have been in the target of wrong doers for quite some time. Not even a month has passed since media persons were attacked and seriously injured by hired goons inside KISS and KIIT campus and the police have yet to take necessary action against the assaulters, a minister has personally attacked a media person on duty.
The MUFP demands unconditional public apology from the erring minister and calls for serious introspection within the media fraternity to find out reasons for growing attacks on media persons who are just doing their job of digging out truth for public sharing. The MUFP also appeals the Chief Minister to take all such issues seriously and initiate appropriate action against the attackers so that freedom of expression in the state is duly protected.

Government in fidgets: Revenue Minister attacks reporters in the Secretariat

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

One may cheat some for some days, some for all days; but not all for all days, says an axiom.

Chief Minister of Orissa – Naveen Patnaik – is experiencing this at the moment, as day by day, now a days, one after one scandals and scams are getting exposed making him stripped of his cultivated credibility layer by layer.

This has put the government in fidgets.

Ministers are so perturbed that one of them, Bijoyshree Routray, who holds the revenue portfolio, has today crossed all limits of decency and discipline; and has used abusive, obnoxious terms for the Press reporters that were seeking update information on a land scam. Lenses have captured him live in using physical force against the scribes in his secretariat chamber while shouting them out and alarmingly setting his hand on collar/throat of a reporter of Focus Odisha TV channel.

Bijoyshree was known for his composure. But, in what he did today, he exceeded all wild conduct a mad man could have exhibited.
He was earlier known as a bribe-taker, as, for an instance, his palms were allegedly greased with Rs.5 lakhs for clearance of a bill of Rs.25 lakhs in ‘Orissa Health System Development Project’.

The State Government had succumbed to World Bank pressure to take a loan of Rs.415 crores to develop its health system. The loan was granted against stipulated standard of work. But sub-standard execution of work had vitiated the project. World Bank had searched for the reason through its own experts and, bribe taken by the minister was found to be a major reason of sub-standard execution of the project. In a statement on January 11, 2005, the World Bank had put it on records. During the alleged period, Bijoyshree Routroy was the Health Minister, the Chief Secretary of Orissa, at that time Ajit Kumar Tripathy, had informed the Press. So, thus was he known as a bribe-taker.

Now he is known for land scam committed under his nose at Ghangapatna of Bhubaneswar as recently exposed, over and above embezzlement of a vast plot in the Capital City’s high-net-worth industrial area in Unit 3 for personal residential use despite having taken the same in high concessional rate in the name of his wife on lease for a hospital.

From now on, he shall be known for attack on media in fear of further exposure.

Scores of acres of highly valuable land are not traceable in revenue records, when it is now public knowledge that some blue-eyed-boys of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik were the kingpins in Ghangapatna land scam comprising a patch of about 80 Acres, where to exclusivity was ensured through compound walls and a serving road, erected, obviously, by any hidden beneficiary of clout with the powers that be; whom the Patnaik government has not brought to books as yet.

Reporters were to ascertain what progress has been made on this score.

But, they had no idea that a senior and experienced minister like Bijoyshree Routroy was to irrupt so obnoxiously on seeing them making the query.

It is time for the Chief Minister to come out of his cocoon of nonchalance and say as to why it has not occurred to him so far that a political government in a democracy is never above answerability to the people, howsoever be its strength in the House of Representatives.

Is there any justice for the murdered journalist? Orissa should be ashamed of its pusillanimity

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

A month has elapsed. As ORISSA MATTERS had put it, the killers had found the Police Station area in Khalikote in the home district of the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik quite a safe place to commit the crime. Journalist Tarun Acharya was killed coldblooded by the terminators of human rights in the evening of May 27. But, Police that was sleeping then, is in slumber as yet.

It was a brutal assault on Press. Neither the Chief Minister in whose district this crime was perpetrated, nor the Opposition in the Assembly whom every moment to find fault with administration is a golden opportunity, have woke up to the occasion to shade even their meretricious tears on the loss of the precious life. Neither any politician worth his salt has condemned the murder nor has the Eastern Media Limited that was using his input to gain more audience stood even posthumously with the man, lest thereby his employment with the flagships of the organization may raise complicated labor issues.

In such a circumstances, eminent journalist and leader of Media Unity for Freedom of Press, Prasanta Patnaik has issued a statement appealing the conscience of everybody who loves democracy to react to this dastardly attack on the fourth pillar of democracy. We quote below his statement –

A month has passed since the brutal murder of our journalist friend TARUN ACHARYA of Khallikote in Ganjam district. Despite the demands of media persons through various journalist bodies and MEDIA UNIT FOR FREEDOM OF PRESS (MUFP) for arrest of all involved in this crime and to take exemplary steps by trying all the accused persons in the First Track Courts and giving adequate compensation to the next of kin of Tarun, s far the State Government has not taken any action.

Very strangely our popular Chief Minister Mr Naveen Patnaik and none from the Government have condemned the brutal murder nor have expressed sympathy to the bereaved family including his young widow, old parents and other family members.

It is a clear attack on the freedom of press in Orissa none of our political leaders including the leader of opposition have so far raised voice in the Assembly which is presently on session. None of the Civil Society bodies, intellectuals, women and youth organizations has also raised voice against such heinous attack on the Fourth Pillar of Democracy.

While only two persons allegedly involved in the crime have been arrested others have not been arrested and the police have not been able to reach at the root of the conspiracy and find out the persons really responsible for the crime.

Tarun, though was working for the SAMBAD and KANAK TV and his reports on the cashew mafia in these media is said to be the real cause behind his murder so far the management of this media house have not come forward to claim that Tarun was their reporter nor have taken any step strikingly condemning the brutal killing of a brave Journalist like Tarun Acharya.

I therefore appeal to all the media persons irrespective organizations they are working for and professional organizations to which they belong to join their hands and strongly fight against such threat to media persons in Orissa.

I also appeal to all professional bodies and MEDIA UNIT FOR FREEDOM OF PRESS (MUFP), all the editors, management of Media Houses to express their solidarity for this great cause of Orissa media and press their legitimate demands.

Friends who agree with my views may kindly send their suggestions at the earliest so that we can organize a meeting of all media friends working in print, electronic, web and visual media etc. to finalize our future course of action.