BJD MP Rebuts OTV Plea On Police Harassment Of Journalist

Bhubaneswar: The BJD MP of Keonjhar, Chandrani Murmu has refuted the plea of the Odisha Television Ltd (OTV) on the harassment of one of their journalists by the police which had picked him from near his house on Thursday.

In a statement, the Keonjhar MP said that OTV MD Jagi Mangat Panda and her husband Baijayant are trying to protect their journalist Ramesh Rath, who was one among the others involved in the circulation of a fake video on her prior to the general elections in 2019 with malafide intention.

She further said that as Panda couple has clout in Delhi, they have managed to influence the Editors Guild of India which has termed the action of the police an attack on the media organisations at the behest of the state government. “What action the OTV owners would have taken had their daughter a victim of such harassment?” Murmu asked.

The Editors Guild of India, in a release on Friday, had said that the state police picked up a senior journalist, Ramesh Rath, employed with a regional news channel, OTV, on charges of having circulated an obscene video last year. OTV has stated that the journalist has been targeted for having done a series of reports exposing the Biju Janata Dal government in Odisha.

The state police have denied the allegations, saying that no arrest has been made yet. “The Guild believes that such actions threaten as well as undermine the independent functioning of the media organisations. These should be withdrawn forthwith,” it pointed out.

Meanwhile, through a release on Friday, OTV operating officer Litisha Mangat said that OTV is being harassed for the last three months, ever since it broke the story of alleged corruption by the Odisha government in the COVID management.

Maintaining that even though multiple FIRs filed against OTV with respect to the land grabbing case in Sarua, Khurda district, are found to be false, she said the government still went ahead and demolished the boundary wall which is totally illegal.

Referring to the harassment of the senior journalist who was picked up without any notice or warrant by the police on the Chandrani Murmu case, she said as per her knowledge, this is a one-and-a-half-year-old case.

“As the trial is on, the law should take its own course. I don’t want to make any comment on that. But it is just surprising that they have woken up to it only now, one day after Ramesh Rath reported the findings of the RTI activists regarding the aerial tour of the Chief Minister in the flood-hit districts of the state,” she added.

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