Bhubaneswar: A seemingly candid conversation between two friends has become a harrowing experience for the family members after the two individuals were arrested and were taken on a 3-day remand. Even legal experts are baffled at the attempts to make a case after the individuals were booked under sections 269/270/505(b) 120-B of the IPC, section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act and section 52 of Disaster Management Act for discussing their experience at a COVID-19 hospital over phone and sharing the audio on social media.
The father of one of the arrested individuals, Laxmikanta Behera was taken ill and is now bed-ridden after such police action against his son for a phone conversation in which there were mentions of lapses in COVID19 management. Worried by such action, Laxmikanta’s brother apologized and urged the government to release his brother from police custody.
As the visuals of police taking Laxmikanta on remand like a seasoned criminal played on television screens across Odisha, the family fell further into despair.
While many experts in the know of things questioned police action against the two individuals, some even raised concerns over government’s attempt to curtail Freedom of Speech in the name of Disaster Management Act.
Dharanidhar Nayak, a senior lawyer said, “I am surprised by the conduct of police. This is not such a crime that warrants taking the accused on remand for three days.”
“I assume the police are trying to coerce them into making a false confession indicting OTV in this case,” added Nayak.
Similarly, the house of the other arrested individual, Biswajit Mohanty, has been locked and there is no information about the whereabouts of his family since his arrest.
Meanwhile, both the BJP and Congress visited Laxmikanta’s home to meet his family.
Odisha Congress leader Sudarsan Das said, “We condemn police excess and their way of treating Laxmikanta like a criminal. We will discuss with party president to provide legal help to the family.”
Similarly, BJP’s Bhubaneswar district President, Babu Singh demanded immediate release of the two from police custody.