Odisha Police Bill opposed: Human rights groups meet Odisha Governor

Bhubaneswar : Representatives of Civil Society Forum on Human Rights, a rights organization Thursday met Dr. S.C. Jamir, the Governor of Odisha and expressed grave concern Odisha Police Bill 2015.

A four member team headed by noted rights activist Dhirendra Panda, the Convener of Civil Society Forum on Human Rights (CSFHR) discussed with the Governor and submitted a memorandum to him

“We urge the Governor to kindly review the bill, keeping in view the constitutional provisions along with the central laws and the objective of the judgement of Apex Court in Prakash Singh case and requested him to recall the Police Bill 2015 and to exercise your power and place the bill for wider public debate and consultation before it is passed in the Odisha legislative Assembly, said Dhirendra Panda after discussion with the Governor.

Civil Society has been opposing the bill in the present form. They alleged that it is not prepared as per the direction of Supreme Court. State Government has not followed the apex court suggestion when drafting the bill.

As the Statement of Objects and Reasons tells, it will have a people’s friendly, imperative to good governance, respectful to human rights, there is a need to ensure people’s participation in the formulation of the Bill, said Akhand, rights activist and a member of this delegation team.

Police Complaints Authority (PCA) and State Security Commission are constituted in such a way they cant work independently and impartial. The Civil Society group has already demaned to send the bill to assembly select committee.

Today Governor assured them to look into the matter and forward it to the Office of the Chief Minister of Odisha and Department of Law.

Other team members are rights activist Chandranath Dani and Pragnya Paramita Jena.

Odisha activists, media fraternity condemn threat to senior TV Journalist

By Akhand, Bhubaneswar:

Civil society members including human rights defenders and journalist forum has condemned the threat and harassment to a senior TV journalist of Odisha. In recent days, many threat calls come from unknown numbers to Satya Prakash Nayak, who is the head of Bhubaneswar based Zee Kalinga news channel of Zee group. Due to his investigative journalism he faced such life threat.

In social media he has discussed about the matter and sought supports from the well-wishers and activists. He wrote “In these testing times, it is indeed tough to tread on the path of ‘SATYAPATH’….After sincere and truthful journalistic career and scores of investigative stories, causing high impact, a commoner like me has attracted the wrath of the high and mighty.”

He added “Sometimes my family is probed under the cover of ”regular inspection”. Sometimes I get threat calls that I shall be killed or thrown behind bars under false case of woman harassment. These forces however cannot deter my spirit. Coz my ISHWAR or PRABHU is on my side. I am ready to do Satya Ra Samna….Are you with me?”
“His family members are questioned by some unknown officials in his village. They also tried to collects my personal data from my locality”, he said to this writer. His recent effort has exposed some corruption scam in the state.

“We the Activists of Odisha resolve to stand behind the Journalist and take up this issue at logical conclusion”, said Pradip Pradhan, a leading RTI campaigner of the state. Ashok Nanda of Lok samukhya organization has demanded an inquiry into the matter and wrote letter to Chief Minster and Director General of Police in this regard. Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) has also expressed its grave concern over the safety of the Journalist. “We demand before the police and the State Government to locate and punish the persons involved in such alleged mischief of threatening a senior media person”, Said Prasant Pattanayak, a senior Journalist and member of MUFP Presidium Prasanta Patnaik.

Bhuabaneswar based rights body Civil Society Forum on Human
Rights(CSFHR) also demands a probe and arrest of the culprits behind this act. They also prepare for approaching Human rights commission over the matter, said Dhirendra Panda, the Convener of the Forum.

NHRC to hold a national seminar in Odisha

By Akhand in Bhubaneswar

The National Human Rights Commission is organising a two-day National Seminar in Hindi on ‘Judiciary, Democracy and Tradition: An Evaluation with special reference to Human Rights’ in collaboration with the Utkal University, Bhubaneswar at its MKCG Auditorium from February 5. The seminar will be inaugurated by the NHRC Chairperson, Mr. Justice K.G. Balakrishnan.

The seminar has been divided into three academic sessions apart from the inaugural and valedictory sessions. The subjects for discussion in the academic sessions include, ‘Democracy, Tradition and Human Rights’, ‘Media, Judiciary and Human Rights’ and ‘People’s Movement, Police and Human Rights.’

The Commission has been organizing a series of seminars in different parts of the country to build awareness about the importance of protection and promotion of human rights and various other issues related to this. Several prominent speakers, including NHRC Member, Mr. Justice Cyriac Joseph, Noted thinker, Prof. Nand Kishor Acharya, Vice-Chancellor, Utkal University, Prof. Ashok Kumar Das and noted senior journalist, Mr. Rahul Dev, will be addressing the seminar.

Odisha activists demands for a special provision for HRDs

By Akhand in Bhubaneswar

Rights activists in Odisha has demanded to open a desk in the office of Director General of Police as well as all police stations of the state especially for RTI and Human Rights Defenders to receive the complaints of attacks and threats against them and to take prompt action against the accused.

Two RTI users have been killed and many activists are attacked in Odisha for exposing corruption in Governments system.

In this week one Krupasindhu Sahu(40), a farmer using Right to Information (RTI) to expose corruption in agricultural department, at Niali Odisha’s Cuttack district, have been killed after kidnapped.

He protested huge corruption in “Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI) program in Krushnaprasad Gram Panhayat of Niali Block.

Mr. Sahu was missing after he went to village market on 26 January evening. His mobile was was switched off. His dead body was found in the river bed of Tanla river on 31 January.

This is the second case of murder of RTI Activist in Odisha. Last December 28, Sri another RTI user Ganesh Chandra Panda of Berhampur was murdered by unidentified hooligans as he exposed corruption in MNREGA works in his village.

Activist in Odisha has condemned the incident and demanded a high level inquiry into the incident.

“The Police should arrest immediately the prime accused and other conspirators behind the murder as alleged in and take exemplary action against them, so that they will be discouraged from taking any vindictive action against the family members of deceased in future”, said Pradip Pradhan, who had done a fact finding there with other activists.

“From these cases, it has been found that due to police inaction or connivance of local police with criminal has led to the murder of RTI Activists. State Government should open a Desk in the office of Director General of Police as well as all police stations of the state especially for RTI and Human Rights Defenders to receive the complaints of attacks and threats against them and to take prompt action against the accused”, said Chandranath Dani, a rights activist.

RTI activists are vulnerable Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in India. Unlike other HRDs, a majority of the RTI activists are not part of an organization; they often act alone, moved by anger at corruption and other illegal activities.

The Right to Information Act, 2005 provides inadequate protection to whistleblowers. Many RTI Activists, been harassed and even murdered for seeking information to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority in India

Many face assaults on a regular basis. People seeking information from their Gram Panchayat and the local administration also face social ostracism. A few activists, who sought information under RTI related to MGNREGA
scams, were killed. Many threats and attacks (including murder) go unreported by the media some times.

(Writer is a freelance journalist and a Human Rights Defender (HRD) based at Bhubaneswar, He may be contacted at akhand11@rediffmail.com )

Activists Condemn the Odisha Journalist arrest

Civil Society Forum on Human Rights(CSFHR) and Report on Reporters (RoR) have condemned the the illegal arrest of a rural journalist Susanta Kumar Padhan of Bargarh.
He is a resident of Amamunda of Padmapur in Bargarh District . Odisha Police have detained him on Saturday at about 9.50 AM. Susanta is working with a weekly newspaper(Jail Jharaka) published from Bhubaneswar as District Correspondent at Bargarh. He is constantly writing against corruption, illegal drugs and liquor production and marketing in Padmapur area. Recently he had written a story how Padmapur police is involved in illegal drugs marketing. Recently We have met him on 21 January 2015 to collect facts about police harassment and illegal search in his house.
Convener of RoR and rights activist Mr. Akhand said, Police is intentionally arrested him due to his writing against police corruption.

Chandranath Dani of CSFHR also expressed grave concern in the matter.

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