Journalists wear black badges, stage dharna and hold protest meetings
Laxman Choudhary arrested for his alleged links with naxals
BHUBANESWAR: Arrest of a journalist in Gajapati district on the charge of his alleged links with outlawed CPI (Maoist) has continued to evoke strong reaction from all corners of the State with mediapersons and intellectuals terming it an attempt to stifle independent voices.
Journalists in several parts of the State wore black badges, staged dharna and held protest meetings against arrest of Laxman Choudhary, a correspondent of a vernacular daily. Mr. Choudhary was arrested when he was receiving a packet allegedly containing leaflets of naxalite groups from a bus conductor.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is also holding the Home port folio, expressed shock over the arrest. Mr. Patnaik’s reaction came when a group of journalists met him in his chamber at the State Secretariat here on Tuesday.
The Chief Minister directed his officials to convey his “strong displeasure” to the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (southern range) R. P. Koche over the arrest. The Orissa Union of Journalists (OUJ) said it was unfortunate that a working journalist was charged with sedition charges.
Journalists condemned the arrest saying there was no concrete evidence suggesting his links with naxal groups and urged Mr. Patnaik to take step for his immediate release.
At a separate meeting held here in the evening, intellectuals came down heavily on the State government for its alleged high-handedness while dealing with naxal problem.
“Neither any incriminating document nor any clinching proof was found from Mr. Choudhary. How far is it justified to arrest a person who would receive letter sent to him from unknown places? This is nothing but an attempt to create panic among people who express independent views,” said Biswapriya Kanungo, a rights activist.
Senior journalist Prasant Patnaik condemned the incident saying it was not an action against media but an attack on people holding independent views.