Bhubaneswar: A television journalist was allegedly arrested in Odisha’s capital Bhubaneswar Thursday. Ramesh Rath was picked up by a group of policemen barely a few hundred metres from his residence Thursday afternoon, and was not allowed any communication, even with his family members, an OTV report claimed.
Rath is a senior reporter with Odisha Television (OTV), which is owned by BJP vice-president Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda’s wife Jagi Mangat Panda. Jay Panda was with Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal for nearly two decades as an MP before leaving in 2018 and joining the BJP.
OTV’s claims vs police’s statements
OTV, which is fighting a series of legal battles with the state administration, dubbed the arrest as a fallout of Rath “exposing” Naveen Patnaik’s chopper run to assess the flood situation in the state.
OTV reported Wednesday, on the basis of an RTI response, that the CM’s aerial flood assessment lasted just 19 flying minutes — Rath was the reporter who highlighted it.
Bhubaneswar Police Commissioner Sudhanshu Sarangi told ThePrint that Rath was detained for a few hours Thursday by the Keonjhar police in connection with a case pertaining to the circulation of an obscene video clip of a sitting female MP.
Mitrabhanu Satpathy, the superintendent of police for Keonjhar, added that the case predated the 2019 elections, and five persons were arrested in connection with it. One of the accused had named Rath as the one who provided the video details, he said.
Satpathy also said the Keonjhar Town Police had picked up Rath for interrogation, and he was released after a few hours. “We wanted the access to the computer from which the video was made viral, but our officers are being denied entry to OTV’s office,” he said.