Youth Congress & NSUI burn Vishal Dev’s effigy, seek his apology

Bhubaneswar: Massive protests erupted at several places across the State today against senior bureaucrat and Odisha Sports Secretary Vishal Dev for being blatantly disrespectful to a correspondent of OTV during a press meet in his chamber yesterday.

Members of the Youth Congress and Odisha unit of National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) took to streets in the capital city and attempted to gherao the residence of Vishal Dev in protest of the incident. Hundreds of protesters burnt the effigy of Dev and demanded apology from him.

“It’s a ticket scam and crores of rupees have been misappropriated in the Men’s Hockey World Cup besides irregularities in ticket sale and preparations for the event,” NSUI leader Kiran Sahoo alleged.

Condemning the way the bureaucrat behaved with OTV journalist, the youth leader said that the IAS officer should immediately apologise or else Congress will intensify its protest. “We will not back down from hurling eggs at the residence of Vishal Dev if he does not apologise soon,” Sahoo said.

The Congress activists also alleged rampant corruption in the online booking of tickets for the Men’s Hockey World Cup scheduled to begin from November 27.

Keeping in view the law and order situation, police detained several members of the party from the spot.

Similarly, the Youth Congress in Chandbali block of Bhadrak district also expressed discontentment at the behaviour of Dev towards the journalist. Demanding dismissal of the bureaucrat, the party workers submitted a memorandum to Odisha Governor through the Tehsildar.

“Most of the works done in the project have been carried out without tender and if media channels try to unearth the scams then attempts are being made to throttle their voice. We demand immediate action against the erring bureaucrat,” OPCC secretary Manoj Biswal said.

Meanwhile, President of Odisha Union of Journalists (OUJ) Prasanna Mohanty, condemning Dev’s behaviour towards the OTV correspondent, urged all journalists to unitedly protest such disrespectful attitude of bureaucrats.

“The disrespect towards OTV journalist was not only a disregard to a single individual but towards the entire community of journalists,” said Dhenkanal Press Club president Bimal Thamba.

“Sidelining a particular media channel is not at all a good step. We have decided to pass a resolution in connection with the incident and send it to the Press Council of India,” IOUWJ president Pitabash Mishra said.

Yesterday, Vishal Dev asked OTV reporter Niranjan Reddy to get out of his chamber during a press meet. Asking the reporter whether he had taken his permission to meet him, Dev also pushed the OTV boom and said, “You come with an agenda and are twisting one report in many ways. Don’t come here. Leave the room and don’t waste my time.”

At the time the incident happened, reporters and camera crew of various other media houses were also present.

Similarly, the Opposition BJP has also criticised the disrespect shown by the IAS officer towards the journalist.

“The incident proves that the administrative officials are getting affected by media. Disrespecting anyone is not at all acceptable in democracy and throttling the voice of media is absolutely condemnable,” BJP Odisha unit president Basant Panda said.

Similarly, BJP leader KV Singh Deo said “I just want to say one thing, that gagging of the media is not right by anybody.”