After the Odisha police’s Economic Offences Wing raided the office of an Odia newspaper Sambad yesterday, the opposition BJP and Congress called it an “attack on the freedom of the press”.
The Biju Janata Dal, headed by chief minister Naveen Patnaik, is in power in the state.
quoted BJP leader Samir Mohanty as saying, “Use of government machinery to suppress those raising issues concerning people of Odisha is unacceptable.” BJP general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan called it an “example of dictatorship”.
Congress state president Sarat Pattnayak said his party “will not tolerate any attack on the fourth pillar of democracy and vindictive politics in Odisha”.
Sambad, one of the state’s largest circulated newspapers, is owned by BJD MLA Soumya Ranjan Patnaik. On September 12, he was removed as party vice-president. According to , Patnaik had been “questioning the rising influence” of the chief minister’s private secretary, VK Pandian. Sambad had also reported on these concerns.
Over the weekend, a former employee of Sambad filed a complaint against Soumya Ranjan Patnaik and others alleging “loan fraud” of an amount “running into crores”. The complainant alleged that a “large number of employees of Sambad were forced to take personal loans under threat”, an EOW official told .
An FIR was filed under related to forgery, criminal intimidation and cheating. On Monday, an EOW team searched Sambad’s office in Bhubaneswar. Subsequently, Kanak News, a news channel , asking why the complainant had been “silent for 14 years”.