Journalist Shackled To Hospital Bed: Political Leaders, Public Forums Demand IIC’s Suspension

Balasore: Political leaders convened an all-party meeting to discuss the case of cuffing journalist Lokanath Dalei to a hospital bed. At the meeting held at Nilagiri NAC Kalyan Mandap, Lok Sabha Member from Balasore, Pratap Sarangi, and MLA Sukant Nayak, former MLAs, Advocate associations, and other forums demanded suspension of the then IIC of Nilagiri. “If the Government does not suspend the IIC during the next two days, there will be a bandh on Wednesday,” they said.

The journalist was allegedly assaulted in police custody was kept in chains after he was admitted to a hospital. Dalei, who is a correspondent of a local daily and TV channel had gone to the Nilagiri Police Station, on Monday in connection with a minor accident involving his motorbike. His bike had collided with the two-wheeler of Niranjan Rana, a Home Guard at the Nilagiri Police Station, on April 4. Following this, the two had a minor altercation, which was settled after the intervention of some locals.

Dalei had taken away the home guard’s helmet demanding that he pay for the repair of the damages caused to his bike. Rana had filed an FIR against Dalei, and on Wednesday the journalist was asked to come to the police station. Dalei said that he was confronted by the Inspector, who the journalist said had a grudge against him for reporting assignments in the past. “They made me sit for five hours and assaulted me when I tried to contact my friends and colleagues. I had fainted and by evening (April 6), I was admitted to the district headquarters hospital,” he had said earlier.

The pictures of Dalei lying on a mattress on the hospital floor and his legs cuffed to a bed, went viral on social media, triggering outrage in the media fraternity and several other forums. Odisha Human Rights Commission took suo moto cognisance of the case and sought a report from the State police. Similarly, the Editor’s Guild of India wrote to Home Minister Amit Shah and drew his attention to the alleged atrocity. Hours after the uproar, the IIC concerned and the investigating officer of the case was transferred.

The protest gathered momentum following which the local leaders have threatened Nilagiri Bandh on Wednesday, if the IIC was not suspended within 48 hours.

Pratap Sarangi, MP, Balasore