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Impartial Probe Needed In Bhubaneswar ‘Gang Rape’ Case & Guilty Should Be Punished: OTV MD

Bhubaneswar: The Managing Director of Odisha Television Ltd, Jagi Mangat Panda has sought a thorough investigation into the alleged gang rape of a minor girl and demanded stern action against the guilty if the allegations are found to be true.

Panda who appeared before the State Commission for Women on Monday, made it clear that when such allegations were first received, the company had immediately acted as per the Supreme Court guidelines through its internal Complaint Committee under Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention and Redressal) Act, 2013. The Committee was chaired by a senior lady.

However, there have been certain peculiar developments in the direction of the investigation that has raised several questions, she said in a statement.

On September 18, the HR head of the company had appeared before the Mahila police station. Earlier, two senior journalists and an HR executive had also appeared before the police. It is pertinent to mention here that OTV has been extending full cooperation to police as far as investigation into the case is concerned.

However, no step has been taken by the authorities to identify the three policemen, who have been accused in the same complaint even 20 days after the registration of the FIR.

Besides, serious questions are being raised over the role of police as it is more concerned about examining OTV employees over the audio recordings aired by the channel (that was only after other Government influenced television news channels extensively aired a leaked audio tape). But no step has been taken by police to interrogate employees of the other television news channels who aired the audio in the first place, she said in a statement.

The FIR was registered by the complainant on August 30, 2020 and a complaint was also filed before the Commissioner of Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Bhubaneswar. However, even before going into the details of the case, the head of the concerned body passed an order against the company without any notice. The concerned official also violated the POCSO Act guidelines by revealing the name of the victim, just like some Government influenced channels did.

Under such circumstances, questions are being raised if the concerned official of the commission was pressurised to rush into overstepping her jurisdiction when the Mahila Police had already begun investigation? Or did she not have faith in the police investigation,? the statement added.

It is worth mentioning here that after the complainant had approached the authorities at OTV in connection with the matter, the organisation’s internal committee head had suggested her to lodge a police complaint. However, she remained unresponsive and, later, it was found that she tried to blackmail the authorities of the organisation for pecuniary gains. The channel has submitted all the relevant details and evidence to the police.

Also Read: Commissioneratre Police Urged To Submit ATR On Bhubaneswar ‘Gang Rape’ Case

Panda in her statement also stated that, “The biggest concern (since this relates to the Mahila Commission) is that a confidential recording of a supposed conversation between the complainant and me, recorded by the complainant was given only to this office which leaked out on the same day, that to only those media houses which are influenced by the government, who played it blatantly on their channels without checking the veracity of the audio. But more importantly these agencies don’t seem to be concerned about that? Also to counter false propaganda spread by these channels, OTV had to air the relevant parts of an audio conversation of the complainant with the internal complaint committee chairperson which went viral.”

“And yet the chairperson sends us summons for the same? Is she not following the development in the case,” asked Panda while appealing for a proper and impartial investigation including identifying and questioning the policemen mentioned in the complaint, as well as the other media houses which also played a leaked audio recording related to the case.

“If this is not done, it will reek of impartiality, gender driven harassment and prove that the investigating agencies are compromised,” the statement read.

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