Against the backdrop of BJP vice-president Baijayant Jay Panda alleging an attack on freedom of expression after Odisha police questioned a reporter of OTV, a channel owned by his family, BJD MP Chandrani Murmu has justified the police action.
The journalist, Ramesh Rath, was questioned and his mobile phone seized in connection with a case related to the alleged circulation of a morphed video of Murmu when she was contesting the general election.
In a video message, the tribal MP from Keonjhar said, “I am an unmarried tribal lady and the youngest MP in India who has been mentally harassed and tortured by OTV reporters and others who viraled a morphed, obscene video of mine, with the malicious intent to defame, harass and mentally torture me.”
Accusing Panda of interfering in the police investigation, Murmu said, “After this tragic incident, the police during investigation arrested a junior reporter of OTV along with others. The OTV junior reporter named Ramesh Rath as the perpetrator of the crime. But when the police questioned the perpetrator of the crime OTV reporter Ramesh Rath yesterday (October 15), OTV and their owners Jagi Panda and Jay Panda are trying to save him by claiming that this is an attack on OTV and its journalists by the government.”
Panda had earlier alleged that the police action was prompted by a news report against the government. In a series of tweets he had stated, “Serious allegations by activists (with RTI accessed aviation documents) that Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik faked an August 31 helicopter aerial survey of flooded districts…. Reporter who broke news…arrested…”
In an official statement, Odisha police have denied the allegations and said their probe is legitimate. “Police arrested three persons including OTV reporter Simanchal Patra… Simanchal Patra has stated that it was under instructions of his then boss Mr Ramesh Rath that he forwarded the obscene video.”
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