Bhubaneswar: Even though the Odisha government recently honoured journalists as Frontline warriors in the ongoing battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems the State police have forgotten its responsibility of providing protection to the scribes at this hour of crisis.
Late on Sunday night at around 11:00 pm, OTV journalist Nitesh Kumar Sahoo was returning home after signing off from duty. Minutes after he crossed the police check-post at Jaydev Vihar on his motorcycle, a drunken rider brushed past him on a bike while the policemen at the barricade were busy in a conversation with a truck driver.
Within seconds, the drunken rider, in his late teens, came closer to Nitesh's bike, resulting in the locking of the two vehicles. There was hardly any traffic on the road due to late hours and also the shutdown restrictions. After a distance, the vehicles got detached which saved them from an imminent accident.
Nitesh said the rogue rider who was in an inebriated condition kept riding as if nothing had happened. Nitesh said when he asked the motorcyclist over the unprovoked and dangerous act, the inebriated rider started hurling abuses and misbehaved with him.
This triggered an argument between the two. The journalist tried to avoid the situation by warning the aggressor of informing the police. However, this had little effect on the drunken rider who obstructed the road while daring the journalist to 'call anyone'.
Not finding a way out, Nitesh dialed the emergency police helpline "100", seeking immediate help. The responder at the Control Room inquired about the location and assured of the immediate dispatch of the PCR van.
Meanwhile, the miscreant called up his associates and before the police could reach, some more men arrived at the spot.
Nitesh said when he tried to take pictures of the registration plate of the rogue rider's vehicle using his mobile phone, the miscreants snatched his phone away and started raining punches and kicks on him.
While one of the four miscreants grabbed Nitesh's hands, another caught his neck. The third person kept showering punches, Nitesh said. During the attack, one of the miscreants pulled away Nitesh's official ID card for which he suffered bruises on neck. They then snatched away the earphones from Nitesh. Though the assault continued for quite some time, the police did not show up.
Though Nitesh withstood the repeated blows for a long time, he could not take the assault by 4 persons for long. After a while, one of the miscreants asked about his address. When Nitesh disclosed, they stopped and left him with warnings and a barrage of abuses.
Nitesh then left the place and again called up the Police Control Room as the PCR didn't arrive. The official at the desk responded by saying that the PCR van was on its way and would reach shortly and hung up.
Nitesh once again called back. This time it was another official who received the call and inquired about the situation.
Later, he reached near the police Commissionerate office and another PCR attended to him.
Nevertheless, the incident brings to the fore the state of lawlessness prevailing on the arterial roads of the Capital city during the weekend shutdown.
Meanwhile, when contacted, DCP, Umashankar Dash said," this is an unfortunate incident. I will personally look into the matter."