Journalist in Odisha shackled to hospital bed

A journalist of an Odia daily was on Thursday shackled to a hospital bed in Balasore district like a hardened criminal following his arrest over a “minor altercation” with a Home Guard.

The motorcycle of Niranjan Rana, a Home Guard at the Nilagiri Police Station, collided with the motorcycle of the journalist, Loknath Dalei, Nilagiri block correspondent for the Sambad daily, on April 4.

“As my motorcycle was damaged in the impact of the collision, I asked Mr. Rana to repair the vehicle and till this was done, I kept his helmet. However, after some time, I gave his helmet [back to him],” Mr Dalei said.

“I received information that a case had been registered against my name. I went to the Nilagiri Police Station on Wednesday. When I tried to explain the circumstances leading to the minor altercation, the Inspector-in-Charge kicked me. Other police officers also joined in and beat me mercilessly,” he added.

Upon falling unconscious, Mr. Dalei was first admitted to the government hospital at Nilagiri, which later referred him to the Balasore District Hospital on Wednesday.

“I was harshly treated and asked to lie down on the floor in the District Headquarters Hospital. Three police personnel were deployed in the hospital and kept me chained to a hospital bed. Police personnel were deployed at the hospital and they kept me chained to a hospital bed from 7 am to 12 noon,” Mr. Dalei alleged.

According to the first information report (FIR), Mr. Rana has alleged that Mr. Dalei had abused him in filthy language and assaulted him while he was performing his duty. The journalist has been booked under Sections 341, 323, 294, 506, 353, 186, 189 and 332 of the IPC.

“The local police administration was nursing a grudge against me for my writings. A Home Guard was used to frame me in a false case and harm my social reputation,” Mr. Dalei said. The journalist said he would move the Odisha Human Rights Commission upon being granted bail in the case.

When journalists across Odisha expressed concern over the alleged police excesses, Balasore Police deputed an Additional Superintendent of Police to inquire into the incident. Despite repeated attempts to reach Sudhansu Sekhar Mishra, Balasore Superintendent of Police, he did not pick up his official phone.

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