Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Jul 7:
Things turned ugly after the personal security guards of Ranjan Das, an accused in the Odisha chit fund scam, assaulted three journalists during a CBI raid at his residence (MB-83) at the Badagada Brit Colony here this morning.
Das, who is out on bail, was arrested by the police today after his personal guards assaulted three journalists, who had gathered outside his residence after coming to know about the ongoing raids.
The raid at the residence of Das, chairman of Swastik India Multi State Credit Cooperative, a chit fund company, was part of the simultaneous raids launched by the central agency at 13 premises belonging to the company and its top executives across Odisha.
“Searches are being conducted in 13 places, which include the office premises of Swastik India multi State Credit Cooperative Societies Ltd. and office premises of Swastik Urban Resources pvt. Ltd. as well as at the residential premises of the President, Directors, Chief Executive Officer of multi state credit cooperative societies and Directors of Swastik Urban Resources Ltd. Searches are in progress,” said a CBI spokesperson in New Delhi..
Eight of the 13 premises, including Das’ residence, being raided are in Bhubaneswar.
The three journalists manhandled by Das’ guards were Subhrakanta Padhiary, reporter of ETV, Jitendra Mohanty, photographer of Odia daily Samay and Manoranjan Mishra, photographer of Odia daily Dharitri.
“Ranjan Das and his associates attacked me and two other journalists while we were covering the CBI raid on his residence. While the other two managed to escape from their clutches, I was kept confined inside the house for at least 20 minutes before the police came to my rescue,” Mohanty said.
“They also threatened me with dire consequences if the news of the raid was carried in the media,” he added.
Confirming the arrest of Ranjan Das, Badagada IIC Suvendu Sinha said he would be produced in a court here later in the day.
While Badagada police have registered a case against Das, his wife has filed a case in the same police station alleging that the journalists molested her.
Charges under sections 341, 365, 346,323, 325, 307, 506 and 34 of IPC and 25 Arms Act have been slapped against Ranjan Das, police said.
Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha MP and managing editor of Samay Ranjib Biswal has strongly condemned the assault on journalists.
‘The repeated assault on journalists, who are the fourth pillar of democracy and were only doing their duty of covering the case, is highly condemnable.Police should slap stringent sections against those who assaulted the journalists so that they don’t get bail easily. Ranjan Das is an accused in the chit fund scam and is out on bail. His bail should be immediately revoked and he should be sent back to jail again,” said the Congress leader who rushed to the Badagada police station after getting news about the assault.
As if on cue, Bhubaneswar DCP Satyabrata Bhoi said commissionerate police would write to the CBI court requesting it to cancel the bail granted to Ranjan Das.
Dhenkanal MP Tathagat Satpathy, who is also the editor of Dharitri, has also reached Badagada police station.
Das, who had been arrested by the CBI in the Artha Tatwa case, had been granted conditional bail by the CBI court here on the orders of the High Court, after spending several months in the Jharpada jail here.
The other places where Swastik premises are being raided in the city include Nayapalli, Baramunda and Laxmisagar, CBI sources said.
Besides Bhubaneswar, raids are also taking place in Balasore, Bhadrak, Sundargarh and Jharsuguda.