Odisha journalist thrashed, chained to hospital bed after arrest; human rights panel seeks report

A journalist from Odisha was allegedly thrashed and chained to a hospital bed by a police official in Balasore for reporting on a corruption case involving the local police.

As protests grew, the police official, PS Draupadi Das was transferred to District Police Headquarters.

The journalist identified as Loknath Dalei, who was arrested by Nilagiri Police in Balasore, was seen lying on the floor with his leg chained to the hospital bed, where he was admitted for treatment.

Dalei was hospitalized after he was called for questioning in connection with a case of abusing and assaulting a home guard. Dalei was reportedly beaten up by the police in charge when he arrived at the station.

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Home guard Niranjan Rana had on April 4, lodged a complaint at Nilgiri police station alleging that he was performing government duty when Dalei abused him verbally and assaulted him.

Based on the complaint filed by Rana, Dalei was detained and was allegedly tortured in police station by the in-charge Draupadi Das. As his condition deteriorated and he became unconscious, Dalei was shifted to the district headquarters hospital in Balasore. There his leg was allegedly cuffed with an iron chain.

The incident came to light on Thursday after a photo of the journalist being chained was circulated by different media outlets. According to Dalei, the police official thrashed him intentionally as he held a grudge after Dalei reported on the involvement of the Nilagiri police in a corruption case.

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When reports of the thrashing emerged, journalists across the state took to the streets and demanded action against the police officer for the “insensitive act”.

Talking to India Today, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, BJD MLA and Editor-in-Chief of a newspaper said, “I do not expect any privilege or protection as a journalist, but as a citizen everybody is entitled to self-respect and security.”

Meanwhile, the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has taken suo moto cognizance of the incident. OHRC stated that Nilagiri Police allegedly assaulted Dalei and chained him to the bed while he was undergoing treatment at the Balasore district headquarters hospital. The photograph showing Dalei chained to the bed speaks volumes regarding issues relating to violation of human rights, it added.

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The OHRC has directed the Inspector General of Police, Eastern Range, Balasore to submit a report within 15 days. The IGP should address the facts reported in news, more particularly, justifying the reason for putting the victim under fetters, it added.

Talking to Media IG Eastern range, Narasingha Bhol said Niligiri IIC Draupadi Das and Investigating officer Subarna Behera have been transferred to Police District Headquarter till the completion of the probe.

Meanwhile, the Editors Guild of India has also expressed shock and outrage and demanded strict action against those who ‘misuse state power.’

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