Samaja Editor served with Damage Notice worth Rs.1 Crore by the Family of Sub-Editor Devi Prasanna Nayak

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

It is increasingly being clear that the once most popular language daily of Orissa, The Samaja, is in the worst phase of its life. Its editorial conscience is rendered unstable. Massive corruption has crippled its normal functioning. Employees are being subjected to alarming unfair labor practices and acts of intimidations by a gang, the legitimacy of which has been judicially challenged by the officiating President of the Servants of the People Society, which, again, is suspected to have hijacked The Samaja by using a forged Will of its original owner, late Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das.

The gang, whose legitimacy is challenged by the SoPS authority, comprises fellows whose moral turpitude and corruption had come under the radar of Justice Arijit Pasayat Committee of Inquiry, leading to its recommendations for action against them.

This gang has, sans any proven legitimacy, appointed a board of management and has allegedly arbitrarily changed the printer and publisher of the paper and has re-empowered a manager whom the officiating president of SoPS had, on records, divested of his responsibilities and asked to go on long leave.

This gang is playing havoc with jobs of the journalists and non-journalist employees of The Samaja with the apparent intention to keep them intimidated. Transfer and suspension of Sub-Editor Devi Prasanna Nayak is an instance. Sri Nayak , besides being an acclaimed journalist, is the President of the Utkalmani Newspaper Employees Association, the recognized and the only one trade union of the Samaja employees and therefore a protected workman under the Industrial disputes Act. Sri Nayak is not being allowed entry into the premises of the paper by the alleged hijackers of The Samaja, as hired musclemen termed security guards are engaged to keep him out of the newspaper campus. Thus the trade union is being strangulated. The trade union has raised a dispute against this malpractice and illegality and the concerned labor office has issued repeated notices to the employer to respond to the allegations. But the gang has kept the labor office notices hidden from the SoPS authority, for which the Opposite Party is conspicuous by its absence in the labor laws implementation forum.

This gang, on the other hand, has tried to damage the reputation of Sri Nayak by misusing the space of The Samaja to feed the public with derogatory information on him. Sri Nayak is a distinguished journalist with an unblemished career and a very promising future. Everybody who knows him deeply knows that he is a totally disciplined person dedicated to his profession and wholeheartedly committed to virtues of journalism. Besides, he belongs to a highly esteemed family, well connected with the society. Spread of derogatory information about him that paints him as an absconding man of misconduct by this gang in the pages of the newspaper, in order only to intimidate the employees whose union he leads, is taken very seriously by his fans, friends as well as his family.

Mrs. Nayak has immediately sent a notice of damage to three persons who carry the orders of this gang in The Samaja. They are, (1) Gopalkrishna Mohapatra, (2) Niranjan Rath and (3) C.R.Das

The Notice says:

Whereas in page 4 of The Samaja dated 31.10.2012 a notice has been published addressed to my husband Sri Devi Prasanna Nayak under a boxed caption ‘NOTICE TO BE PRESENT IN THE DOMESTIC ENQUIRY’;

And whereas in the said notice attempts have been made to denigrate the image of my husband in public eyes;

And whereas the author of this notice, C.R. Dash has no legitimacy to issue such notice in the known environment of disputes over management of Servants of the People Society before the appropriate court of law;

And whereas Sri Niranjan Rath has no legitimacy under the same environment to publish such a piece of character assassination of my husband;

And whereas Sri Gopal Krushna Mohapatra is responsible for anything published in Samaja as its editor;

Now, therefore, I issue this notice, that you all three must publicly apologize to my husband and to my family for having played such mischief against the reputation of my husband as well as my family within a week of issuance of this notice in the same paper, at the same place, in the same format, failing which I will sue you three individually and collectively for a damage worth at least a Crore of Rupees against each in the appropriate court, over and above any prosecution deemed proper against the crime involved.

This notice has been issued on November 1, 2012.

It was never expected that Utkalmani’s noble spirit shall get killed in the premises of the paper he founded. But this is now the shocking reality.

The media persons of the State are silently but keenly keeping a watch.

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