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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Odisha: Save the Samaja Forum demanded liberation of the 'Samaja'  

"In a press meet in Bhubaneswar on August 29, 2012, a body of intellectuals demanded liberation of the Samaja from outside control claiming that the Will document that empowers Servants of the People Society (SoPS) to own and manage Odia Newspaper the Samaja is a fake one for it neither carries the signature of Utkalmani Pundit Gopabandhu Dash nor does it bear any other’s signature conforming the genuineness of the document. The group of intellectuals, who have formed 'Save the Samaja Forum', demanded a probe to verify if the document is a genuine one and if SoPS is the rightful owner of the Samaja Newspaper."


HNF Correspondent


Intellectuals of Odisha started raising their voice to liberate the Samaja newspaper from the control of outside organisation saying that the newspaper is part of State heritage. Suspecting that the will made by Odisha’s legendary freedom fighter Pundit Gopabandhu Dash, as published years back in the Samaja newspaper, is a fake document, group of intellectuals under the ‘Save the Samaja Forum’ demanded that the genuineness of the will should be investigated and the historical property of Odisha must be restored and handed over to the members working in it.

While talking to the media persons, member of the forum and a senior journalist Subhas Chandra Pattanayak said, ‘The will document doesn’t carry a signature of Utkalmani Pundit Gopabandhu Dash nor does it bear any other’s signature certifying that the document genuinely carries the desires of Pundit Gopabandhu Dash.


So, it is more probable that the document is a fake one and, in such a case, the Servants of the People Society (SoPS) is illegally claiming it to be the owner of the Samaja, the oldest of surviving newspapers of Odisha.’

Pattanayak demanded that, ‘there must be investigations into the matter and, if the document is not a genuine one, the Samaja must be made free from the SoPS and handed over to the workers of institution declaring it a heritage property of Odisha.’

However, responding to a phone call by this journalist, Manubhai Patel of Loksevak Mandal (how the SoPS is called by most people) said that ‘these are all fabricated rumours. The Will document was a genuine document and the institution is managed by Loksevak Mandal and no single individual. The allegations could be well replied had Dr Radhanath Rath been alive.’

The forum formed to save the Samaja Newspaper also called upon the SoPS to make public the genuine will of Pt. Gopabandhu Das, if any, to convince the people of Orissa that it is in rightful occupation of the Samaja and its entire property.

Hinting upon various financial irregularities and misappropriations of the Samaja funds made by the members and office bearers of SoPS, Pattanayak said that the facts were exposed in the investigations made by noted political economist Dr Nilakanth Rath and also by Justice Arijit Pasayat. But none of the investigators suggested any means of recovery or penal action which helped the people engaged in financial misappropriation escape easily.

‘We have always been prompt in acting upon any allegation of irregularity and misappropriation, whenever they came to our notice. Displaying our promptness we have even ousted people holding high positions. Some of the cases are also in the Court to be decided’, said Manubhai Patel.

Subhas Pattanayak of Save the Samaj Forum insisted that ‘the Odisha government must take the responsibility to save this heritage institution and make a fair inquiry by a government agency, be it CBI, Odisha Crime Branch or the Vigilance Department, to bring out the truth and recover the looted amount and expose if anybody is involved in such act.’

Veteran Journalist and writer Prasanta Patnaik and Pabitra Maharatha also shared the panel as core group members of Save the Samaja Forum.

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