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Shocking: Odisha minister attempted to physically assault journalists

 

Bijoyshree Routray

Bhubaneswar,

Last updated 06 Jul 2016 01:02 IST

  Odisha, Minister, Bijoyshree Routray, Land Scam
The attempt by Odisha's revenue minister Bijoyshree Routray to assault journalists physically in his official chamber poses threat to democracy and raises several questions. Can a civilised society afford to see repetition of such behaviour from political leaders, elected members and ministers? Can the society allow political leaders for similar actions against an ordinary voter for seeking answer to an inconvenient question but for larger public interest?
 

The news of Odisha’s revenue minister Bijoyshree Routray behaving with media representatives in an assaultive manner in his official chamber was really shocking. It’s shocking not because a minister behaved like a hooligan but because a democratically elected lawmaker appeared in the most indecent manner, which was against the spirit and principles of democracy and which appeared to be a threat to the democratic rights of the citizens in parts of world’s largest democracy of India.

As per reports, the minister turned abusive and physically aggressive towards a reporter of a local television channel, who along with fellow reporters entered minister’s official chamber at the state secretariat to record his comments on the land scam. It’s said that the minister “shouted at and heckled” the particular reporter.

No matter who the reporter was and what he asked or wanted to ask to the minister. Nor do I want to discuss about the controversy over his residential use of the land allotted in the name of his wife for a clinic-cum-maternity home and the obvious mental agony the minister might have media highlighted this. In such a case, the minister could rather have preferred to take rest and shouldn’t have come to the office till he is relatively free from his agony.

Yes, pondering upon issues relating to code of ethics in journalism are certainly a positive thing for the profession as a whole. But in this case, journalists asking questions about an already established scam or fraudulent deals to the concerned minister doesn’t seem to be violative of code of ethics as per norms of journalistic conduct set by the Press Council of India.

 

Quotation starts

For any reason, however, such behaviour of an elected leader, as demonstrated by minister Routray in the premises of a public office, cannot be justified because the issue is not confined to journalists only but is a larger issue posing threat to democracy and the rights of the citizens.

Quotation ends

For any reason, however, such behaviour of an elected leader, as demonstrated by minister Routray in the premises of a public office, cannot be justified because the issue is not confined to journalists only but is a larger issue posing threat to democracy and the rights of the citizens.

As apprehended by Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, a senior fraternity member who also manages news website orissamatters.com as its editor, can a civilised society afford to see repetition of such behaviour from political leaders, elected members and ministers? Can the society allow political leaders for similar actions against an ordinary voter for seeking answer to an inconvenient question but for larger public interest?

No one contradicts to the fact that journalists are no more or less than a common man but they are surely the better informed and responsible section of society governed by a mechanism of self-regulation guided by seniors. They are still important because of their watchdog role in the society and, also, because of their bigger role in representing the voice of the voiceless common man. The fraternity never defends wrongs nor does it ever support any kind of unlawful act or exploitation though the perspective of its members sometimes differ on certain issues.

But, undoubtedly, these are the only members of the society who take small or big risks, at no one’s insistence but driven by their duties and passion, anytime to bring out the truth to public, to keep people and the society informed about everything even though that brings a lot of inconvenience to people in power and attracts further risks even to life.

So, it’s the duty of the society and the government to protect and empower the fraternity members by countering all attempts to curb and silence it.

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