Vikash Sharma

Is Odisha government afraid of journalists or is it trying to hide something? Well this question is now haunting scores in the state. After bans in several government programmes, the journalists were stopped by police personnel using a rope as a barricade in the Assembly today.

The photograph of police personnel using a rope as barricade to stop entry of journalists ahead of the arrival of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inside Odisha Assembly has now gone viral on social media. Resentment is also brewing among the journalists over the incident as earlier they were banned at several government programmes.

This latest incident was reported on the first day of the budget session of the Odisha Assembly. Members of the media fraternity including journalists & photo journalists had turned up at the Odisha Assembly premises to cover the proceedings on Tuesday.

As it was time for the Chief Minister’s arrival, the security personnel present at the spot pulled a rope and used it as a barricade to the stop the journalists. The photograph of the incident soon went viral on social media platforms.

It is not for the first time that the journalists have been ill-treated. Earlier, the entry of media was restricted inside Loka Seva Bhawan citing Covid-19 despite lockdown was lifted everywhere else. Later, the journalists were restricted at several government programmes as well. The latest restriction was observed during President Droupadi Murmu’s recent visit to Odisha on February 10.

So, why the government is trying such gags? Why the government is so angry on the media? Whether it is for exposing the government or news coverage against the government’s wishes & interests?

Senior journalist, Prasanna Mohanty said, “The way rope was used to restrict journalists is a humiliation. I have already written to the Odisha Assembly Speaker seeking prompt intervention.”

Senior Journalist Rabi Das said, “There is no scope in Odisha where the journalists can question the Chief Minister. We have seen that government calls journalists for discussion when government programmes are boycotted. I believe that there will be a change in the situation if there is unity.”

Expressing concern, Congress MLA Suresh Routray said, “The journalists cannot enter Odisha Assembly, Secretariat, DG office. Will the journalists roam under the trees? Such restrictions are certainly condemnable and injustice is being meted out.”

Opposition Chief Whip, Mohan Majhi said, “Media is the fourth pillar of the society and any kind of restriction on journalists is unfortunate.”

When the incident was brought to the notice, Information and Public Relations (I&PR) Minister, Pradip Kumar Amat said, “I will examine whatever has happened.”

(Reported by Harihar Chand)