Gang Rape Of Minor In Bhubaneswar: News Channel MD Seeks Impartial Probe

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Bhubaneswar: Managing director (MD) of Odisha Television Ltd (OTV) Jagi Mangat Panda, who was summoned by the State Commission for Women (SCW) in connection with the gang rape of a minor girl, said that the allegations of heinous acts must be thoroughly investigated and exemplary punishment given to those found guilty.

Though she left the office of the commission in a huff citing urgent work, she submitted a written reply on the issues related to the incident.

Later, in a release to the media, the MD said that the Mahila Commission has the right to do its fact-finding, but her utmost concern is for the minor girl.

“When these allegations of sexual harassment were first received by the OTV, it immediately acted as per Supreme Court guidelines through its Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) under Sexual Harassment Of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, chaired by a senior lady. The steps taken by the committee including the advice to the complainant to file a report with the police are on record. However, there are certain peculiar developments in the direction of the investigation that has raised several questions,” she said.

Besides, the authorities seem to have no interest in identifying or questioning the three policemen, who have been accused in the same case, even 20 days after the FIR.

She said all information and documents relating to the matter have been submitted to the police and OTV is extending all corporation to all authorities.

“Police seem to be more concerned about interrogating the OTV employees over the audio recording instead of questioning those channels which had aired it first,” she alleged.

The OTV MD also said that it seems that some powerful people are putting pressure on all agencies concerned to divert the attention of this case. “As in the past, these same powerful people had tried to malign OTV’s image by moving a privilege in the State Assembly against the channel, which was later proved to be surrogate. Similarly, in the recent viral audio with two guys speaking about their COVID experience, an FIR was filed by the government against us and they have been harassing our employees ever since by calling them regularly and making them sit in the police station for hours,” she pointed out.

Pointing fingers at the Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (OSCPR), Panda said after the FIR was filed on August 30 and investigation initiated, a complaint was also filed by the complainant before the Commission.

Unfortunately, the head of that body without going into the details of the case or giving notice to the OTV passed an order against it. Besides, she also violated the POCSO Act by illegally revealing the name of the victim just like some of the other government-influenced channels did. “Has any case been initiated against her for violating POCSO Act and overstepping the jurisdiction?” Panda wondered.

She also said that the biggest concern (since this relates to the Mahila Commission) is that a confidential recording of a supposed conversation between the complainant and me, recorded by the complainant was given to only this office which leaked on the same day, that too only those media houses which are influenced by the government, who played it blatantly on their channels without checking its veracity.

“More importantly, these agencies don’t seem to be concerned about that? Also to counter the false propaganda spread by these channels, OTV had to air the relevant parts of an audio conversation of the complainant with the ICC chairperson, which went viral. And yet the chairperson sends us summons for the same? Is she not following the development in the case?” She asked.

Appealing for a proper and impartial investigation, which should include identifying and questioning the policemen mentioned in the complaint, as well as the other media houses which also played a leaked recording related to the case, she said if this is not done, it will reek of impartiality, gender- driven harassment and prove that the investigating agencies are compromised, the statement added.

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