Sarpanch holds scribe hostage for reporting ‘facts’ in Odisha
The journalist published reports in his newspaper of how the sarpanch in quarantine was provided food and clothes by his family every day in violation of COVID-19 guidelines.
JAGATSINGHPUR: Miffed by news reports on irregularities and violations of Covid-19 at a temporary medical centre (TMC) at Korua panchayat under Naugaon block, a vengeful local sarpanch allegedly held a journalist in confinement for exposing the wrongdoings.
The journalist Mahadev Nayak of Garei village of the block was rescued by police and administration officials after spending six hours in the TMC and consequently sent to quarantine for having come in contact with the people in isolation.
The sarpanch Aranya Nayak himself is in quarantine at the centre as he had returned from West Bengal. The tiff between Aranya and Mahadev began when the latter wrote about the former’s absence in the panchayat when the district administration began opening TMCs to quarantine migrant labourers returning to the district. He runs a business in the neighbouring State and in his absence, his brother Hiranya Nayak used to act as the sarpanch of the panchayat.
As he was quarantined at the TMC for 21 days following his return, his family members provided food and clothes every day in violation of the Covid-19 guidelines. Pointing out the gross violation, which may have put locals at the risk of coronavirus infection, Mahadev published reports in his newspaper. Aggrieved, the Sarpanch decided to take revenge and called him to the TMC on Thursday on the pretext of giving a write-up for his newspaper.
When Mahadev reached the spot, the Sarpanch allegedly snatched his mobile phone, gold chain and cash of Rs 10,000 from him and asked the returnees in the TMC to hold him hostage. They kept him in a room at the facility for six hours before police received the information and rushed to the spot. Police, BDO of Naugaon Rashmi Rekha Mallick rescued the journalist and sent him to another quarantine facility at Alanahat village under the same block.
On Saturday, Mahadev’s wife Priyatama Nayak lodged a complaint against the sarpanch and his brother for holding her husband hostage and misusing Collector’s power. IIC of Naugoan police station, Gobardhan Sahoo said investigation into the allegation is on. The sarpanch is yet to be arrested.