A journalist in Odisha is picked up by police which his employers claim is in retaliation for “exposing” the so-called aerial survey of flood-affected areas by chief minister Naveen Patnaik in August. The police claims the reason to be something else. Though police released the concerned journalist after a few hours, the news has made national headlines.
Ramesh Rath of OTV broke a news on Patnaik’s aerial survey on August 31 based on RTI responses. He claimed that only one OSS Air Management helicopter had taken off from the Bhubaneswar Airport at 10:12 a.m and it returned by 10.31 am. Rath raised the question how could CM have affected an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas in just 19 minutes. The channel claimed there was also no VVIP movement reported that day.
Subsequent to the story, the local Keonjhar police picked up Rath from the OTV office without a warrant. They also wanted to carry on a search. Its news editor R Mishra later spoke to Republic TV thus: “This is not the first time that OTV is being targeted. Ramesh Rath was the journalist who broke the news about the RTI response on CM Naveen Patnaik’s aerial survey. After a day, while he was on his way to the office, Keonjhar police picked him up in a van and they seize his two mobile phones, drag him to the police station. No one is informed why he has been boked. Whether they have a FIR lodged against him.”
Police, on their part, say Rath was picked up for interrogation on a case related to the circulation of an obscene video clip of a sitting female MP during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Police claimed Rath’s name had come up during the investigation and hence he was picked. They said after questioning, Rath was released within few hours.
Meanwhile, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) has released a statement saying they have written a letter to the joint secretary to Odisha chief minister, providing details about the chief minister’s air travel.