Odisha police on Sunday detained one Covid-19 sufferer along with his friend for allegedly criticising the State Government’s management of the pandemic. The arrest came after a purported audio recording of a phone call between the Covid-19 sufferer and his friend surfaced, In which the former could be heard discussing “mismanagement” at Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation run hospital.
“They did not talk anything against the government in the audio clip and neither targeted anyone. I have never imagine that a simple audio discussion of my husband with friend would snowball into such a big controversy,” the woman said while speaking to OTV.
“Coming under the pressure, the police may force my husband to change his statement,” she added.
Commenting on the issue, BJP National vice president Baijayant Pamxa tweeted:
Odisha police have arrested two men who posted their phone chat online. Their "crime"? One of them allegedly tested Covid +ve & spoke of fake "treatment" at massive govt cost. This just the latest of massive Corona related corruption scams in Odisha. Will #FoE activists speak up?
— Baijayant Jay Panda (@PandaJay) August 10, 2020
Earlier in a related development Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) had reportedly issued a show-cause notice to the OTV for running the audio of the conversation of the abovementioned gentlemen in its social media platform. The audio featured the two discussing about the “Covid-19 mismanagement” at BMC run hospital. The BMC has also filed a police complaint in this regard.
OTV in a statement have said that the Bhubaneswar civic body had served a show cause notice to it through police in the middle of August 7 midnight. Now, the BMC move has invited strong criticisms from several quarters.
I stand with @otvnews against @bmcbbsr show cause notice for running a viral audio clip, in its social media platforms, which purportedly carried a conversation between a #COVID19 +ve patient and his friend questioning the civic body.#BMCNoticeToOTV@RADHAMADHAB80 @JagiPanda
— Saswat Panigrahi (@SaswatPanigrahi) August 9, 2020
“If the state government wants all media houses to act as their mouthpiece, then where is the fundamental duty of a journalist? You cannot serve notice to media for showing what has actually been said by some persons,” said Leader of Opposition in Odisha Assembly, Pradip Nayak.
Congress MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati said, “There are so many lapses in COVID19 management in the state. People are facing a lot of problems. A law should be brought in the Assembly to regulate social media.”
OTV authorities has sought a seven day period to file response to the BMC show cause notice.