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.

SCB Medical College must not be allowed to remain a den of vices

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The rowdy medical students of SCB Medical College, who were on strike since arrest of one of them for having instigated and led a gang of fellow students to torture two of the Cuttack based journalists in wrongful confinement in their hostel, have withdrawn their strike after the SCBMC superintendent put a ban on normal entry of journalists into its campus for news purpose.

In an office-order issued on June 28, the Superintendent has directed that “no doctor or official is authorized to give any bite or news both to electronic & print media”, while prohibiting media representatives from entering into various parts of the institute without his prior permission.

The arrested medico, engaged in medicine ward, was instigating a patient to shift to nephrology ward, even though he was never a nephrology case. His pathological tests that the medicine ward had routinely conducted had shown that his urea creatinine level was normal and he had no problem with the kidneys. But the medico was insisting that he should be shifted to nephrology ward where his kidneys could be tested. The daughter of the old man was not agreeing with the medico to shift her father to the nephrology wing as she was smelling a rat; because, her father was not diagnosed on the basis of investigations to be a case for nephrology and because the medico was insisting upon shifting her father to nephrology ward behind the back of the treating professor and unit head of medicine, and further because, kidney is an organ that gets stolen by the needing rich through the doctors in treating hospitals. The medico was seen intimidating her. The journalist in question being the son of the patient on coming to know of the matter apprised the professor and unit head of this, who instantly rushed to the spot, asked the indoor patients of the ward about the happening and allegation well corroborated by fellow patients, shifted the concerned medico to another duty room immediately. This irritated the medico. So, as the journalist was sure to come to see his ailing father again, the concerned medico kept a gang of medicos organized to teach the journalist a lesion. When the next day the journalist came, another fellow journalist had accompanied him to have a in-depth investigation into the motive of the medico behind insistence to shift the patient from general medicine to nephrology ward behind back of the professor and unit head. The lurking medicos jumped over them and whisked away them into a wrongful confinement in a hostel and inhumanly tortured them for hours. Sadly, the police IIC having arrived in the campus on a SoS message from the tortured journalist, remained a passive onlooker and later, while dillydallying to act on the journalists’ FIR, was seen entertaining the accused medicos in his chamber and accommodating their counter FIR. As the IIC paid a deaf ear to the grievances of the two media men, the scribes and photo-journalists of Cuttack led a protest rally to police headquarters and sumbitted a memorandum seeking stern action against the miscreant medicos as well as against the IIC, Mangalabag for siding with the miscreants. They were assured of appropriate action against the miscreant medicos and the IIC for dereliction in duty.

Against this backdrop, the SCBMC superintendent has issued the mischievous order.

The order is very shrewdly worded which de jure does not appear like a ban order, but imposes a de facto ban. It says, “media representatives both electronic and print shall be allowed to enter into the O.P.D./Casualty/Wards etc only after obtaining permission from the superintendent”. To some, the expression shall be allowed to enter with permission is not the same as shall not be allowed without permission. So, to them, the order in question has a positive line. But in reality, it is a mischief against freedom of press designed to keep unethical and illegal medical practice going on unabated in the college hospital hidden from public knowledge.

That, the averment that “media representatives ……. shall be allowed to enter into the O.P.D./Casualty/Wards etc only after obtaining permission from the superintendent” is a ploy to escape criticism for stymieing free press, is established by the Sambad in its report of July 01 as it has exposed how the so-called permission to its man was granted long 7 hours after formal request on June 30.

So the views that making superintendent’s permission a prerequisite for media persons to enter into the SCBMC campus is not obstructive to freedom of press is not acceptable.

On the other hand, in a signed editorial on June 30, captioned “Dhik Tama Hitlery Shasan” (Fie your Hitlerian rule), editor of the Samaja Sri Gopal Mohapatra has shown how SCBMC has become a den of vices and deliberate negligence to poor patients; and how its maladies have attracted governmental intervention after being exposed in media leading to correction of its wrongs, which without exposure in the Press could have continued to affect the patients under habitual nonchalance of the authorities or under pretense of professional aloofness of the doctors.

In this splendid editorial seldom seen in mainstream media in Orissa, Sri Mohapatra has rightly termed the ban as a crude attempt to keep medical maladies under cover for ever.

How media has made the medical authorities wake up to needs of treatment and nursing is discernible in hundreds of published reports. As for example, in August 2011, when hundreds of Dengue patients were perishing in SCBMC without care on its corridors, the authorities had to confess their lapses and organize beds and nursing materials that had saved hundreds of lives after being exposed in the media.

“There was some problem regarding infrastructure, but everything has been sorted out now. We have taken measures to open the special dengue ward. Arrangements have been made for an adequate number of mosquito nets and beds for the patients and even doctors have been assigned for the ward, It will start functioning from Friday” the superintendent had stated (Times of India, August 19, 2011).

Had the press not exposed the malady, no correctional steps could have commenced and hundreds of people could have died of dengue.

And, this malady could not have been spotted and focussed had the journalists been denied free access to the SCBMC campus.

Exposure of their misdeeds by media has always been irritant to the black sheep in SCBMC. The present restriction on entry of journalists to its campus is propelled by irritation over exposure of medical misdeeds.

The affected journalists, whose professional entitlement to have access to source of information is so very severely infringed upon by the SCBMC superintendent, could have entered into the campus en mass in protest against the wrongful order; but instead of that, they have rightly met the central RDC in a huge delegation on July 01 seeking his administrative intervention.

We earnestly hope, the RDC will appreciate this good gesture of journalists and use his position to ensure that the rowdy medicos are disciplined and the premier medical college is made available to media’s free access in order not to remain a den of vices that a few miscreants amongst medical community have turned it to at the moment.

At the same time Cuttack journalists’ allegation that Mangalabag IIC is protecting the miscreant medicos needs be investigated into and action be taken against him sans any delay if he is found prima facie guilty of the mischief.

This is essential, because the SCB Medicall College must no more be allowed to remain a den of vices.

Rapists’ Alleged Shield in the State Cabinet Intimidates the Press

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

People in Orissa have become such habituated with keeping mum in the prevalent environment of crime that the students and social activists – usually the most vocal in collective civil causes – were not even daring to raise voice against the negligence to the Pipili rape victim – battling for life under coma – till media coverage made it a matter worth sharp societal attention.

NOW the civil society stands in solidarity with the victim and she is receiving medical care at SCB Medical College, Cuttack, where a couple of days ago treatment was denied to her.

The Pipili Police Station in-charge, who had remained gravely negligent to the case of the victim has NOW been displaced by way of transfer and police has registered the case that then it was not looking at.

The family members of the victim, who were not daring to utter the names of the bruits that perpetrated the crime, lest they further torture, are NOW pointing their accusing fingers at them and unambiguously naming them even before the cameras.

NOW there is no aloofness in the public and many have started believing that police can no more succeed in covering up endeavor, if any.

But NOW the loudmouthed leader of the ruling party, the Agriculture Minister Pradip Maharathi has become very angry with the media. He has hurled alarming words at media persons and media organizations for having carried the versions of the victim’s family members, in a style akin to act of intimidation.

Whither the State?

MUFP CONDEMNS TECHNO-STUDENTS’ GOONDAGIRI AND DEMANDS RETURN OF MEDIA EQUIPMENTS

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.

MUFP CONDEMNS CRIMINAL ATTACK ON MEDIA PERSONS IN PARALAKHEMUNDI

 

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.

Navin Raj Resembles the British Raj ! Unrelenting Police Torture Continues on the Press

His father, a cancer patient, is bedridden in a local hospital known for administration of chemo-therapy.

He had come to his residence to collect medicine and food for his father.

Bhubaneswar Police, intelligent enough to know that he had come to his residence, was also in know of this. But it jumped on him when he was starting for the hospital, destroyed the medicines and the food specially cooked for his father, arrested him, produced him before a court that led him into a prison cell pending trial, leaving his father at the mercy of fate.

Had humanitarianism any value for administration in Orissa, the police could have arrested him, if the allegation, if any, against him warranted such action, after the medicines and food, so essential for the old man fighting cancer in the hospital bed, were duly delivered.

But, it was not in consonance with the police scheme. He was brutally arrested and in the name of law, debarred from rendering essential service to his critically ill and hospitalized father.

He is Bikash Swain, owner and publisher of a daily newspaper Suryaprava that maintains and materializes a policy to expose misrule.

During the days of our freedom movement, the police personnel working under the British were torturing Indians opposed to the foreigners by denying them natural justice and arresting them in concocted cases. In the administration of Navin Patnaik, to whom the foreigners are more important than the Oriyas, the police has the same stance and when media, in increasing numbers, come forward to expose the misrule that resembles foreign rule, media persons are being implicated in cooked up cases and tortured to ruin their credibility and to intimidate their community.

Media Unity for Freedom of Press has called upon the editors, publishers, promoters and owners of media organizations as well as media persons to an extended emergency meeting to discuss the disturbing development and the clamant issue of Press freedom.

Below is the call:

Statement of MUFP on World Press Freedom Day

Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) has issued the following statement:

As we observe the World Press Freedom Day today, we have reasons to both rejoice and feel concerned about the developments in Orissa.

2009 offered us compelling reasons to unite under one umbrella and fight all attempts at muzzling and terrorizing the media and media persons and that saw the birth of a unique and broad platform called the Media Unity For Freedom of Press. The MUFP has been able to bring together all sections of the media across the state on several issues that threatened media’s basic rights and mandate to investigate and report the truth. The sense of unity among media persons on such occasions has been truly encouraging and friends belonging to several journalist unions have joined our efforts in very large numbers.

At the same time we have great many reasons to feel concerned about the growing challenges – be it from the administration, corporate sector, mafias or people who enjoy political clout as well as money and muscle power.

The cases that we have taken up in our brief existence – from attacks on Laxman Choudhury, Jagannath Bastia and Amulya Pati among several others down to the latest bloody attack on media persons at the Silicon Institute of Technology – clearly demonstrate a trend of growing intolerance against the media. Friends working in Maoist zones as well as in areas where people’s movements are taking place are among the most vulnerable to repression, physical attacks and even death threats from powers that be. The state government and the district administration are slowly but definitely turning against the idea of a fiercely independent press and we have reasons to apprehend they would fall back on draconian measures whenever they are exposed to public scrutiny.

Our only shield against organized or institutional attacks on the freedom of press is our newly achieved unity which we must preserve and protect against all odds and at any cost. We need to reiterate our commitment to the idea of press freedom through press unity on the World Press Freedom Day and resolve to strengthen the MUFP as a body that is above all divisive and petty considerations and one that is wedded to the idea of defending the self-respect as well as basic and inalienable right of the media to report the truth, come what may.