9 arrested for assaulting OTV scribe covering child marriage

Cuttack: A day after the brutal attack on OTV correspondent Pravat Bisoyi while he was covering a child marriage, commissionerate police arrested nine accused, including the groom’s father and some others from the bride’s side. Seven vehicles have also been seized.

A case has been registered against them under sections 147,148,307,323,294,379,149,34 of IPC and section 11 of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, DCP Sanjeev Arora said, adding that efforts are on to nab the other accused.

The incident has invited sharp criticism from all sections. Cuttack (Choudwar) MLA Prabhat Ranjan Biswal, who visited the injured journalist at SCB medical College and Hospital, condemned the assault and expressed shock over the matter.

“This is an attack on the fourth pillar of democracy. Such an attack on a working journalist, who was trying to expose an illegal act, is really condemnable. I have talked to the DCP about the action initiated against the accused”, Biswal said.

Congress also demanded exemplary punishment for the culprits. “I deeply condemn the incident. It is really pathetic. Police should take strict action against the accused so that others do not dare to do such things in future”, said Cuttack city president of Congress Mohammed Moqim, who visited the hospital to enquire about the health condition of Bisoyi.

OTV cameraperson Smruti Samant, who accompanied Pravat to the place, narrated the ordeal before media. “I hid myself in a nearby cottage and failed to trace Pravat in the crowd. When I heard noise from the crowd, I apprehended something bad is going to happen. Then I called some fellow journalists over phone”, Samant said.

The camera person lodged an FIR at Sadar police station in this regard. A similar complaint has also been filed by the legal aid at same police station.

Meanwhile, there has been a slight improvement in the health condition of Bisoyi. The injured scribe is undergoing treatment under the direct supervision of Prof Pratap Rath, head of the department of Surgery at the Central ICU of the State’s premier government hospital. Doctors are waiting for the complete diagnosis report as he has sustained internal injuries, hospital sources said.

Bisoyi and camera person Smruti Samant were attacked by the families of bride and groom at Khalarda village under Sadar police station yesterday. Some officials of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) were also assaulted by the mob.