Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 10:
Even as opposition parties, civil rights organisations and the people at large in Odisha are baying for his blood, former Kendrapara SP Satish Gajbhiye has come out all guns blazing against the media squarely blaming it for his present plight.
The no-holds-barred attack against the media came in the shape of an uncharacteristicaly vitulent post on Facebook on Saturday night. He even offered a reason for taking the Facebook route to voice his anguish. “I know media may not put my position before the people. Hence, you are requested to share this posting and comment,” is how he signed off the post.
Well, going by the response so far, the media has given his carping statement more coverage than anything he has done or said previously as a police officer – with the possible exception of his reaction after being grilled by the CBI about his alleged links with some kingpins of the chit fund scam.
Gajbhiye, it may be remembered, was removed as Kendrapara SP and shunted out to the police headquarters without a formal post at the height of the vociferous agitation in Kendrapara town demanding the arrest of self-styled godman Srimad Sarathi Dev alias Sarathi Baba for his alleged shady deals and the unsavoury goings-on inside his ashram at Barimula on the outskirts of the district headquarters town. But curiously, he refuses to admit that it was a ‘punishment’ transfer.
Coming down hard on the media in general and television news channels in particular, Gajbhiye alleged that it was ‘hype’ and the race for TRPs that fuelled the violent protest.
Accusing TV channels of selective airing of police excesses, Gajbhiye said; “The media has continuously shown the clipping of motorcycle headlight being broken by a constable. Where the media had gone when motorcycle lights were pointed in dark towards the constables to see them and throw explodable crackers on them. Who will show the clippings of broken police vehicles? The Media has repeatedly shown that a politician who is incidentally an advocate by profession was manhandled by police. But why they are not showing the clipping of this politician, when he climbed up a building and threw boulders on the policemen?”
What the ousted police officer conveniently forgets to mention is why did he have to subject Duryodhan Sahu, the ‘politician, who is incidentally an advocate by profession’, to the humiliating treatment of getting him to do sit-ups in full public view, knowing very well that the images were being beamed on TV screens for millions to see, when he could have simply arrested him? In acting in the manner that he did, he has only invited that the charge that he is also ‘a politician who happens to be a police officer’. More so because he justifies his decision not to act against Sarathi Baba on the ground that he was ‘duty bound to protect the fundamental rights of all’. So what happened to Sahu’s fundamental rights, Mr Gajbhiye? Or the hundreds of others who were made to kneel down with their backs behind their backs on the roads? Or is it your case that only Babas have fundamental rights?
But the part in the post that is bound to raise the hackles of those asking for his head is his claim that there was no ground to arrest Sarathi Baba since there was ‘no concrete complaint’ against the godman. One wonders on what grounds did the Crime Branch arrest the Baba then? There was no fresh complaint that could be categorised as ‘concrete’ between the time he refused to act against Sarathi Baba and Friday morning when the Crime Branch team began its investigation. In fact, it was additional SP of Crime Branch, who registered an FIR against the Baba after the marathon interrogation. So, it is a perfectly legitimate question to ask why he, as the head of the district police, couldn’t do the same, particularly at a time when feelings were running high?
Even in taking on the media, Gajbhiye has made no secret of the fact that he is a fawning admirer of a particular section of the media. While castigating ‘a newly established news channel’ (News 7) for ‘airing the ‘air tickets to Hyderabad with a lady,’ he has sung paeans to OTV which, he says, ‘has large stable viewership, despite not indulging in cheap methods of increasing TRP.’ By breaking the unwritten code of bureaucrats and police officers never to talk about such things, Gajbhiye has made sure that he would get even more bad press in the days to come than he has done so far.
Sensing the mood of the public and the government, lawyers, opposition parties and civil rights groups are sharpening their knives and moving in for the kill.
Lawyers across the state would stage a strike demanding action against him on Monday even as the Democratic Women’s Forum staged a demonstration in Chanrashekharpur area on Sunday demanding his arrest and trial.
Both the Congress and the BJP on Sunday demanded the arrest of the former Kendrapara SP. While the BJP has decided to stage dharna in front of all police stations in the state on Monday demanding a CBI probe into the entire incidents relating to Sarathi Baba and the arrest of Gajbhiye, the Congress has demanded immediate arrest of the former SP.
“BJP will stage dharna in front of all police stations in the state tomorrow demanding CBI probe into the involvement of the ruling BJD with the Sarathi Baba, the nexus of this fake Baba with the ruling party leaders in chit fund scam and land grab and immediate arrest of the former SP,” BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra told reporters here on Sunday.
Senior Congress leader and leader of the Opposition, Narasingh Mishra said the audacity of the former SP has crossed its limits.
“On behalf of the party, I demand that along with the former SP, others police officers who had taken the law into their own hands should be immediately placed under suspension and arrested,” the Congress leader said.