Bhubaneswar : A newspaper publisher was arrested here for allegedly duping a student, but media groups and opposition parties are protesting the move and allege that he has been framed for writing against the government.
Bikash Swain, the owner, publisher and printer of vernacular Oriya daily Suryaprava was arrested Thursday for allegedly duping a student of Rs.1.5 lakh on the pretext of providing him a job in a public sector undertaking.
The complainant, Mohit Panda, Tuesday alleged that Swain gave him an appointment letter that was not genuine. When he demanded his money back, Swain allegedly threatened to kill him.
Although the alleged transaction was done about eight months ago, Panda lodged the complaint only Tuesday.
Swain was arrested and remanded to judicial custody after the court rejected his bail plea.
Opposition parties, including the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and journalists’ organisations, however, see it as an attempt by the government to suppress the media.
Suryaprava is edited by former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Uma Shankar Mishra.
“The paper has been exposing the misdeeds of the government since its launch in 2008,” its managing editor Naveen Das told IANS.
“He (Swain) was arrested by a group of policemen in plain clothes when he was on his way to attend to his ailing father in a hospital. When he was not avoiding the police, what prompted police to treat him like a criminal?” he asked.
“The allegations (against Swain) are baseless. It is clearly a move to silence us but we will not bow down,” Das said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police H.K.Lal said Swain was arrested after the youth lodged a written complaint.
Ashok Sahu, spokesperson of the state unit of the BJP, alleged that Swain’s arrest was another instance of the autocratic style of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
“There have been increasing attacks on mediapersons in the state during his regime,” he said.
“In the last few days, this newspaper was coming with a scathing attack on the state government’s functioning, with supporting evidence, particularly against the chief minister and his corrupt practices,” he claimed.
Other opposition political parties, including Samajbadi Party and Samrudha Orissa, also issued statements condemning the arrest.
President of the Orissa Union of Journalists Prasanna Mohanty termed Swain’s arrest as a vindictive act and said his association would launch an agitation across the state.