Bhubaneswar, Jan 15:
Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP), a leading organisation fighting for the rights of journalists in the state, has demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Jitendra Prasad Das, the sub editor in Samaj who was arrested and put in jail for the publication of a picture of Prophet Mohammed in Tuesday’s edition of the leading Odia daily.
At a meeting organised in front of Jayadev Bhavan here on Wednesday, MUFP members strongly condemned the arbitrary and illegal arrest of Das on the basis of irresponsible submission by the Management of Samaj in the matter.
“It goes without saying matters of this nature are in the domain of the Editor and the Publisher as per law and it is ridiculous to implicate a DTP operator or a Sub-Editor for the offence committed by the Editor/Publisher,” veteran journalist and MUFP convenor Prasanta Patnaik said at the meeting. He demanded the immediate reinstatement of Das with proper compensation in his current position as Sub-Editor.
Condemning the attitude of the Samaj management in the case, MUFP members said instead of owning responsibility for the blasphemous act, they are making their low paid editorial staff easy scapegoats. “This violates journalistic ethics as the Editor and Publisher of the newspaper are solely responsible for the highly irresponsible act,” they said.
The organisation also asked the Commissionrate Police to tender a public apology to Das and said it would be proper for the Samaj to publish a due apology to the minority community for hurting their religious sentiments with an assurance not to repeat such an act in future.
MUFP said it will be forced to launch an agitation if the demands are not fulfilled and if proper action is not initiated at the earliest.
Meanwhile, the parents of the jailed sub editor have had a torrid time since yesterday. Repeated calls to the Samaj for information on their son have failed to elicit any response, a family member said.
Das continued to languish in jail for the second day running on Wednesday.