The Naveen Patnaik govt in Odisha has registered around 20 cases against Odisha TV (OTV), its sister companies, employees and family members, including the 84 years old father of Jagi Mangat Panda, the managing director of the company. This was revealed in a press release issued by Jagi Mangat Panda today, who said that the channel is being harassed with false cases as part of a conspiracy orchestrated at the behest of BJD government in Odisha because of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s personal vendetta. Due to the continuous harassment, the media house has demanded a probe into allegations against it by a national agency.
Saying that the false cases include several criminal cases, Panda said that they vehemently deny these allegations. She said that there has been no wrongdoing by them and they are confident that this will be proved in the courts. It may be noted Jagi Mangat Panda is the wife of BJP leader Baijayant Panda, who was earlier in BJD, and currently the primary challenger to CM Patnaik.
“We assert that these cases are being orchestrated by the 21-year-old BJD government in Odisha, because of CM Naveen Patnaik’s personal vendetta against us,” the managing director of the media house said. “It is no secret that ever since my husband Jay Panda started speaking out about the BJD’s widespread corruption five years ago, and thereafter joined the BJP, the Odisha government and BJD have been targeting and harassing our family members and organisations and entities connected with us, as well as actual violence against us on several locations,” the statement alleged.
Jagi Mangat Panda informs that five of their employees have been arrested, two of whom were forced to resign from the channel while in custody. She said that the channel is been cooperating with the authorities, & large numbers of our employees have been going to police stations for interrogation as and when summoned.
Saying that they will continue to cooperate with state authorities, she demanded a probe into cases against the channel by a neutral national agency. “Because of the biased behaviour of the Odisha authorities, it is high time that these allegations are investigated by a neutral national agency,” the press release issued by Jagi Mangat Panda said.
She also appealed the national media to cover full facts of the issues, and not just focus on “just the allegations and developments from one perspective which suits the BJD.”
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 OTV Sarua Studio Manager Anirudhha Panda was arrested by a group of policemen at 3 AM on 10th November. 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, 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 them to stop harassing the employees, forcing them to tender their resignations.