[Niti Central] Odisha: Violence marked the Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi celebrations in Odisha with Muslims taking exception to a purported picture of Prophet Mohammed published in a major Odia daily on his birth anniversary on Tuesday.
Angry protesters shouting slogans against Odia daily Samaja — which carried the controversial image, resorted to violence and damaged property estimated to be around Rs 3 crore targetting the newspaper’s offices located in Cuttack, Balasore and Rourkela.
Cuttack city, home to Samaja headquarters, witnessed violent protests with the agitators demanding unconditional apology from the said publication. As the police intervened trying to work out peace between the parties, the newspaper issued an unconditional apology signed by its executive editor Satya Ray. But that failed to calm down the agitators who subsequently demanded the arrest of those responsible for the publication of that controversial picture.
Oddly enough, despite the unconditional public apology, the Samaj management have had no qualms in giving out the name of the sub-editor who supposedly handled the story with the controversial picture.
The sub-editor, Jitendra Prasad Das has been arrested by the police. The police action against Jitendra Prasad Das drew widespread condemnation from the journalistic fraternity across Odisha.
Working journalists on Wednesday demonstrated in the State’s capital Bhubaneswar and demanded the immediate release of the sub-editor.
“The editor is responsible for the content of a newspaper. But unfortunately the Samaj management gave out the name of the young sub-editor by entirely passing the buck of responsibility on him. This is unethical. We demand the immediate release of the sub-editor. The editor and Samaj management shouldn’t escape the overall responsibility,” said Prasanna Mohanty, secretary general of National Union of Journalist (I).
Founded by Utkalmani Pandit Gopabandhu Das, the Samaja is owned and managed by ‘Servants of the People Society’ (Lok Sevak Mandal), New Delhi, a trust founded by all-time legend Punjab Keshri Lala Lajpat Rai.
Police said there has not been any untoward incident reported anywhere apart from protests against the publication and the situation remains peaceful.