The mask is off, and all pretensions of playing by the rulebook have been dispensed with. It is now clear that the Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha is out to ‘fix’ OTV, the leading Odia news channel headed by Jagi Mangat Panda, wife of the BJD supremo’s bete noire and BJP national vice president Baijayant (Jay) Panda. An allegation of gang rape of a minor girl by eight people, two of whom were reportedly employees of the channel, has provided the government just what it needed. Though the alleged serial rape took place in April-May, the case was filed by the mother, a former OTV employee, only on August 30, and the Twin City (Bhubaneswar and Cuttack) commissionerate police are yet to identify the accused OTV staff or the police officials allegedly involved in the case. Almost all senior OTV personnel have been repeatedly grilled at Bhubaneswar’s Mahila police station, while Jagi Panda was summoned by the State Women’s Commission (SCW).
The police’s refusal to go after the other accused leaves little room for doubt that the investigation is aimed more at ‘teaching a lesson’ to the channel rather than getting to the bottom of the case. In fact, Twin City commissioner Sudhanshu Sarangi recently said that involvement of police personnel was not the focus of the probe. “The investigation is going on in another direction,” he said when asked if the accused personnel had been identified yet.