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Mrunal Manmay Dash

The Bharatiya Vikash Parishad (BVP) on Wednesday warned to drag the Odisha government to the High Court if the order to bar working journalists from the Lok Seva Bhawan was not revoked in three days.

BVP president, Surendra Panigrahi told reporters that the organisation will write to the President of India, the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister urging them to take action against the State government for the dictatorial order.

“The Odisha government wanted to hide the series of corruptions that took place during COVID surge in 2020. From masks to bamboo used for marking containment zones during lockdown, corruption prevailed everywhere,” alleged Panigrahi.

“The government barred journalists from entering into the Lok Seva Bhawan fearing that they could get hold of the data pertaining to the corrupt practices,” he added.

Earlier, scribes from electronic and print media used to visit the Lok Seva Bhawan to get reaction on various incidents and issues directly from the concerned Ministers, Secretaries and other officials. Following denial of entry into the Bhawan for almost two years now, their way of working has severely been affected. The government has denied the journalists of their rights and freedom.

At present, the various press briefings and press conferences, which earlier used to be held at the Lok Seva Bhawan, are being carried out in virtual mode, depriving the journalists of the right to ask questions since the past two years.

Earlier this month, senior journalist Ruben Banerjee raised issue and said, “It is unfortunate that journalists are not allowed entry into the Lok Seva Bhawan. If they don’t get access, if they don’t ask questions, how the accountability of the government will be fixed? Citing the excuse of Covid, how far it is justified to not allow journalists into the Lok Seva Bhawan.”

Media is regarded as the fourth pillar of democracy. A question now has emerged how favourable it is for a democratic set up to restrict journalists from visiting the Lok Seva Bhawan, asked the journalists.

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