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Media, rights bodies condemn arrest of Odisha journalist


Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jan 24:

The media fraternity, human rights activists and civil society members in Odisha today condemned the arrest of Susanta Pradhan, a journalist based in Padampur in Bargarh district, by the police on flimsy charges and demanded his immediate release.

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Pradhan, who is the district correspondent for ‘Jail Jharaka’, a weekly newspaper published from here, was arrested by police this morning.

Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP), an organisation fighting for the rights of media persons, not only demanded the immediate release of Pradhan, but also a high level probe into the matter.

Terming Pradhan’s arrest as a ‘nasty move’ by the police to muzzle press freedom, the MUFP has called upon the DGP and the state Home department to immediately institute a high level probe into the circumstances under which the journalist was repeatedly harassed by the police before being arrested today and also to inquire into the alleged nexus between the police and drug mafia in Padmapur.

The MUFP has threatened to launch an agitation if the state police and Bargarh district administration fail to respond to its demands by the 27th of January, said senior journalist Prasanta Patnaik on behalf of MUFP.

Condemning the arrest of Prdahan, human rights activist and convenor of the recently launched forum ‘Report on Reporters’ (RoR) Akhand, who led a fact finding team to Padampur on Wednesday, said the police had acted vindictively against him because he had written a series of reports that exposed the nexus between Padampur police and traders of illegal liquor and drugs.

“We demand the immediate release of the journalist,” Akhand said.

Campaign Against Fabricated Cases (CAFC), Odisha has also condemned what it called the ‘illegal and arbitrary’ arrest of Pradhan.

“We demand the immediate release of journalist Susanta Pradhan and appeal to all democratic, progressive people and human right activists to raise their voice against police high-handedness on the matter,” said Narendra Mohanty, state convenor of the forum.