MUFP stands with TV scribe

The MUFP condemns the brutal attack by armed police on TV reporter Amitabh Patra on April 29 early morning who was doing his duty of covering an agitation against Lower Suktel Dam in Dunguripali of Balangiri district.

AMITABH PATRA_INJUREDHis TV camera has been smashed and he has sustained grievous injury on his head. No head scan has been done so far. Without any reason he has been arrested.

The MUFP demands the following:

1. Immediate and unconditional release of Amitabh Patra

2. Offering him proper medical treatment in a proper place with cost to the state

3. Restoration of his camera and returning the same to him in its original condition.

4. Arrest of police officials who have launched the brutal attack on him

5. Compensation for the injury and for loss of property

6. Release of other media persons including Lenin Ray of Nissan

6. Provide proper protection to media persons on duty in sensitive areas and on sensitive matters.

Prasanta Patnaik, Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, Gopal Mohapatra, Rabi Das,
Prafulla Das, Ashok Mohapatra, Dwinjen Padhi, Gourahati Das, Sampad Mohapatra, Dwijen Padhi, Sudhir Patnaik

A Dilemma and the Decision

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

I was in a dilemma, because of personal reservation, when a registered body of Orissan Journalists styled National Journalists Welfare Board invited me to accept a pension it is to introduce on International Press Day, 2012 in recognition of lifelong contribution to journalism.

The NJWB is neither recognized by any national organization of journalists nor has any official status to grant any senior journalist any pension. Within the prevalent frame of journalists’ welfare, its signature is not authentic on the basis of any law relevant to the journalists. This was the cause of dilemma.

I consulted my friend Prasanta Patnaik and other senior journalists.

The State government has a ‘Working Journalists’ Welfare Fund’. When I was the Secretary of Orissa Union of Journalists, on demands of OUJ, the then Information Minister Sarat Kumar Kar had constituted this fund. As the matter hit the proposed agenda before the Cabinet, the Law Minister – himself a lawyer – took the cue and a ‘Welfare Fund’ for the lawyers was immediately put on the anvil. The later took the shape of a law whereas the former got the shape of an executive resolution.

Both the journalists and the lawyers are professionals in genre and serve the two pillars of democracy – the Press and the Judiciary – respectively, to set right the direction of democracy often derailed by the other two pillars – Legislative and Executive.

These two pillars – Legislative and Executive – that often derail democracy, are well fueled with pension provisions.But the real propellers of the rest two pillars that save democracy from derailment are left to their fates in our system. Hence, it was essential to have state funding for welfare funds for both the journalists and the lawyers.

But, sadly, Orissa Government discriminated between the journalists and the lawyers in the constitution of their respective Welfare Funds. And, consequently, the Working Journalists Welfare Fund is lying defunct.

With the Trade Unions of journalists gone haywire under corporate conspiracies, in course of time, Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP), which is the latest evolution of media brotherhood beyond the boundaries of Trade Unions in Orissa, has been stressing upon activation of the State Fund for journalists through radical amendment of the Working Journalists Welfare Fund Rules to the extent of encompassing both the employed and self-employed media persons, while giving it a regular status of Law with a regular flow to its corpus from revenue of the media houses that fetch advertisements from Orissa, with matching Grants from the State.

But, the Government is not for the welfare of the journalists.

Within the last one year, the MUFP has organized funds for treatment of journalists hospitalized for metabolic diseases and for traumas caused by police atrocities, corporate assaults, attacks by exposed criminals and on-duty accidents.

Rajat Dash, Sub-Editor, Suryaprava; Jagannath Bastia, Puri Correspondent of The Samaja; Laxmidhar Mohapatra, Camera person of MBC TV; C.Ratnam, Paralakhemundi representative of EENADU are beneficiaries of MUFP contributions. Whereas its contributions, though of immense timely help to Pabitra Mohan Khuntia, Vidual Editor of STV and senior Journalist of OTV Pitabas Panda could not save their lives, MUFP derived utmost satisfaction from having organized life saving funds for Ansh, son of Kanak TV Vidual Editor Sudarshan Palai. Though the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund was invoked by MUFP presidium leader Prasanta Patnaik for Ansh to a limited extent, it was deeply felt that it could have been better if the State Fund for Working Journalists could have been functional with expanded scope and adequate provisions, in all the above cases. We have tried our best to educate the Government in this regard; but in vain.

Against this backdrop, even though NJWB is not nationally or officially recognized, its perseverance to fill up the gap, despite initial reservations in the world of Orissan media, seems to be an eye-opener endeavor to which media persons, adherent to journalistic norms, may not have any abhorrence.

Therefore, I decide to accept the offer as a symbol of my appreciation for attempts of our younger friends, who through their perseverance have shown the Government that the journalists by their own endeavor can promote welfare provisions for members of their fraternity.

One may hope that the NJWB action would wake up the Government to the occasion and make it conscious of its basic responsibility towards the sentinels of democracy.

Doctor of Criminal Conduct Set Free after Arrest, as Law Patronizes Illegalities in the Name of Law

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Anarchy has many faces.

One face is Dr. Prafulla Kumar Patra, a government physician, who, instead of working at the place of his posting in a different district, has been operating a private clinic and hospital styled “The Child Nursing Home” at Bargarh.

He was arrested by the police under various sections of Indian Penal Code for serious criminal conduct; but has been enlarged on bail.

This has happened in the area to which the state health minister belongs; but surprisingly no departmental disciplinary action is yet taken against him.

On June 19, his Nursing home had attracted attention of the local media as plight of a poor man who had admitted his child there revealed financial exploitation and treachery in health care by the government doctor in his private hospital. As media persons tried to verify the truth, they were brutally beaten up by Dr. Patra and his family members.

The Bargarh Sambadik Sangha as well as the Media Unity for Freedom of Press had raised strong protests against such attack on journalists on duty by a Doctor who is not joining his duty on transfer.

His offenses are grave and punishable with imprisonment and fine. But the Orissa High Court was pleased to grant him anticipatory bail. The police arrested him and because of the anticipatory bail, released him.

Law has an inherent bizarre facet that helps illegalities get patronized by law in the name of law and unscrupulous fellows take advantage thereof to stay free despite having perpetrated serious crimes.

But who has stopped the health department to discipline the errant doctor, who runs a private hospital instead of joining his place of posting, that too in the very own place of the State Health Minister?

Fanatical Face of Pipili: Rape is Our Prerogative; Action Against That is Not Yours

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa Gana Samaj that stresses on CBI inquiry into Pipili gang-rape, is facing police action, as the local police station – ill-famed for having given protection to the rapists – has entertained a FIR against its leaders, alleging, because of them, the rape having attracted national attention, face of Pipili has been blackened.

Pipili Assembly Constituency is in strong grip of ruling party BJD. No official here is expected to act independent of BJD influence.

Here, in the village Arjungoda, on 29 November 2011, a Dalit girl was found lying like a dead body in a paddy field abandoned by perpetrators of gang-rape who had tried to murder her after raping, as her living was dangerous to them, she being the only eye witness to a 2008 rape-cum-murder they had committed; and, assuming that she was dead, they had left her motionless body to be eaten away by scavengers.

But a villager stumbled upon the poor child in that pathetic condition and notified her family.

The shocked family took her to Pipili Hospital for immediate medical intervention and informed the police. None of them came to her rescue.

The girl was then taken to the Capital Hospital at Bhubaneswar, which not only blatantly neglected her, but also to eliminate the angle of rape, probably under political pressure, tried to make out a case of snake bite.

The girl, due to willful wrong treatment, went from senselessness to coma and her reference even to the SCB Medical College failed to fetch any proper medical attention; as if revival of her sense was not in the agenda of the government doctors.

She was discharged from the medical college without any medico-legal investigation even though her family had apprised the medical officer of the gang-rape and attempted murder.

As she was thus left without medical care, in the lap of slow death, in a condition of no attention from the State as police was not taking cognizance of rape and attempted murder, the local media took up the matter.

Surprisingly, the loudmouth bigwig of BJD, Minister (as he then was) Pradip Maharathi, representing Pipili in the Assembly, till then silent, woke up to intimidate the Press for reports of the rape!

The minister’s such unexpected attack on the media made the watchdog of journalistic interest, the Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) take up the issue and eventually, under its initiative, for the first time in the post-independence history of Orissa, politicians sans their party flags got united with the civil society against the government’s design to suppress this felony, which gave birth to the Orissa Gana Samaj (OGS), with representatives of MUFP – Prasanta Patnaik and Rabi Das – as its joint conveners.

The loudmouth minister had to resign from the cabinet; the Government had to readmit the victim in the medical college afresh and to arrange for her treatment under inspection and instructions from super-specialists and medical scientists from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi; and other official organs had to get activated. The Home department had to initiate action against the police inspector who had protected the rapists and the alleged rapists were arrested, notwithstanding howsoever farcical that was.

Had the OGS not taken up the matter, the victim could never have got government attention and the possibility of prosecution against the rapists could never even have developed.

So, the ruling party, its loudmouth leader who was forced to resign in the gang-rape context, its local hoodlums to which segment the alleged rapists belong, are acrimoniously angry upon the OGS.

Now as a FIR has been filed against the representatives of OGS by a man who claims that by exposing the gang-rape, they have embarrassed Pipili in the eyes of the nation, one is inclined to accept that there are elements in Pipili to whom raping a woman is not a crime against the land, but exposing the crime is a crime. This throws light on the liking of the party that rules over Orissa, specifically when such a mischievous FIR has been entertained by the police.

Prasanta Patnaik, Convener of OGS, has demanded that the matter in its entirety be handed over to CBI for an in-depth investigation, as the State Police seems to be in habitual nexus with the criminals.


Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP)  is deeply shocked to know of the untimely demise of fellow journalist and OTV’s Input Editor Pitabas Panda on Sunday early morning at the Sum Hospital, Bhubaneswar.

Sri Panda was a gem of a person known for his integrity and sincerity to the profession. Ever ready to walk the extra mile for his organization and friends, he had endeared everyone with his beaming smile.

He will always be remembered as a great human being who lived for others.
MUFP conveys its deepest condolences to Sri Panda’s bereaved family as well as his colleagues at OTV and prays for eternal bliss for his kind soul. 

For Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP)
Prasanta Patnaik,
Subhas Chandra Patnaik,
Sampad Mohapatra,
Rabi Das,
Prafulla Das,
Gopal Mohapatra,
D.N. Singh,
Dwijen Padhi

Junagarh Follow-up: Police Official Punished for Attack on Press

The police officer responsible for atrocious attack on Press persons at Junagarh of Kalahandi district has been punished with transfer.

The Kalahandi Journalists through their Association have in a message thanked Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) for expressing solidarity with their fight for justice.

They have called off their protest agitation on August 16 after the officer-in-charge of Junagad PS, who had attacked and instigated other police men to attack the media persons covering the local farmers’ agitation was transferred and the authorities assured the journalists that no false cases will be slapped against them.

MUFP has expressed satisfaction over the victory of the Journalists of Junagarh and Kalahandi in their principled and united battle against official attempt to gag the Press and has laid stress on similar action everywhere in the state as and when media persons are subjected to any sort of atrocity.

Editors Join Hands with MUFP for Protection of Freedom of Press in Orissa

Editors of Orissa’s mainstream newspapers, portals and chief news executives of television channels joined hands with Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) on its initiative on February 12 and resolved to stand united to restore dignity of Press as and when the government cold-shoulders media persons tormented by intimidators in any form with the evil design to obstruct their free and fearless professional functioning.

MUFP presidium briefed the editors on how on many occasions the Chief Minister has, through its delegations and memorandums, been personally apprised of the atrocities perpetrated on media persons, not only by mafia, but also by the police. Sadly the CM has not kept his promise to take necessary action.

Individual editors have in the past attended MUFP protest demonstrations under the Freedom Tree; but this is the first time, as a class, they attended this special meeting.
While endorsing the MUFP stand that protection to media persons on duty is essential for free functioning of Press, the editors and news executives accepted the call to lend their collective wisdom to MUFP in drawing up its future course of action.

Accordingly an advisory committee was created comprising Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, (Editor of Sambad), Tathagat Satapathy (Editor of Dharitri), Prof. Biswa Ranjan (Editor of Khabara), Satakadi Hota (Editor of Samaya), Pramod Mohapatra (Executive Editor, Samaja), Samahit Bal (Executive Editor of Pragativadi), Batakrishna Tripathy (Editor of Dinalipi), Srimoy Kar (Resident Editor, The New Indian Express), Soumyajit Pattanayak (Chief Editor, OTv) and Asok Mohapatra (Chief Editor, MBC). On behalf of MUFP, Prasanta Patnaik would be its coordinator.

Participants in the convention were, besides the above, Sandeep Sahu (BBC), Dillip Satpathy (Business Standard), Sisir Bhattamishra (ETv), Sudhir Kumar Panda (Pratidin), Bipin Behari Mohanty (Amari Katha), Jatindra Das (IANS), Debi Prasanna Patnaik (UNI), Navin Das (Surya Prava), Siddhartha Kanungo (PTI), Chowdhury Amitav Das (Sambad), Subrat Das (Telegraph), Prasanna Mohanty (Naxatra News), Anil Das (Dharitri), Aparti Pradhan (Sambad), Manoranjan Mishra (Dharitri) and Ramesh Rath (OTv).

Members of MUFP Presidium: Sampad Mohapatra (NDTV), Sudhir Pattanayak (Independent Media), Prafulla Das (Hindu), Prasanta Patnaik (India Tv) and Subhas Chandra Pattanayak ( contributed to deliberations.

The Advisory Committee shall have its first session on February 19.