A day after Republic TV Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami was released from jail, BJP leader Baijayant Jay Panda took to Twitter to allege that, like the Maharashtra Government, Odisha government is also exploiting its offices and violating due process to clamp down on the media organisation Odisha Television (OTV).
After spending 8 days in jail for a closed 2018 abetment of suicide case, Republic TV’s Editor-in-chief was released from Taloja jail yesterday evening. While Arnab Goswami was granted interim bail by the apex court, the channel’s Assistant Vice President Ghanshyam Singh continues to be behind bars in connection with the so-called TRP scam. Scientist and columnist Anand Ranganathan took to Twitter to express his angst at the unchecked malicious campaign of the Maharashtra state machinery that is determined to falsely target and desperately implicate Republic TV and its members.
Replying to the columnist, the national vice president and spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Baijayant Jay Panda, revealed how a similar witch-hunt was being carried out by the Naveen Patnaik led Odisha Government against Odisha Television (OTV).
The BJP leader alleged that the Odisha Police, working at the behest of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik were ‘illegally’ arresting OTV executives and intimidating them into resigning while in custody. He said that the time these arrested employees take to arrange for their bail is utilised by the Odisha police to threaten and coerce them into quitting the channel.
For the uninitiated, Odisha Television (OTV) is headed by Baijayant Jay Panda’s wife Jagi Mangat Panda. Jay Panda was with Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal for nearly two decades as an MP before leaving in 2018 and joining the BJP.
Odisha Government Vs OTV
We have earlier reported how OTV MD Jagi Mangat Panda has alleged that her organisation is being targeted for coverage of the Naveen Patnaik Government’s alleged corruption. Recently, on November 10, Randhir Singh, father of Jagi Mangat Panda had issued a video appeal to the Union Home Minister of India, Amit Shah, seeking protection from the excesses of the police officials against his family and employees at the channel’s studio in Sarua, Khordha, under the pretext of carrying an investigation into a land issue.
It is pertinent to note here that at the site in-charge at Sarua, Anirudhha Panda was arrested by a group of policemen at 3 AM on Tuesday. The posse of about 15-20 police officials had reportedly climbed the boundary walls of the studio and hustled away Panda in the dead of the night without offering any reason.
Last month, Ramesh Rath is a senior reporter with Odisha Television (OTV) was allegedly arbitrarily picked up by a group of policemen barely a few hundred metres from his residence and was not allowed any communication, even with his family members. The channel had dubbed the arrest as a fallout of Rath reporting about Naveen Patnaik’s chopper run to assess the flood situation in the state. The Odisha police excesses, however, did not stop at this. A day after Rath’s arrest, a team of police had reportedly arrived at the office of the channel to search without warrants for the same, OTV had stated.
Before this other two employees working for the channel were also arrested. Rath and the other two were arrested in as many as 20 cases, leaving little doubt amongst many of the state-sponsored harassment against the company employees.
The Odisha Government has levelled a host of allegations against OTV and its affiliate organisations. OTV MD Jagi Mangat Panda had in a press release earlier, asked the Odisha government to investigate all the allegations levelled against them but asked him to stop harassing the employees, forcing many to tender their resignations.