Opposition slams directives restricting entry of journos into Odisha schools

Published on Jul 11, 2022 09:49 AM IST

Congress lawmaker Suresh Routray called it an attempt to suppress reporting on corruption in schools

 (/HT PHOTO (Representative))
(/HT PHOTO (Representative))
ByDebabrata Mohanty

Opposition parties have slammed directives restricting the entry of journalists into schools in Odisha’s Dhenkanal and Kendrapara districts with Congress lawmaker Suresh Routray calling it an attempt to suppress reporting on corruption.

Routray said the access was earlier restricted to the state secretariat, the assembly, and SCB Medical College and Hospital in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Now the government is restricting entry of media persons into schools. How would the inadequacies of the education system come out if reporters are not allowed? This is a condemnable move,” said Routray.

Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament Aparajita Sarangi, a former school, and mass education department secretary, said it is the duty of journalists to report irregularities. “During my tenure as education secretary, no punishment zones were created and I asked journalists to visit schools and report if there are any violations.” She added the orders restricting journalists should be withdrawn immediately.

Journalist Prasanna Mohanty said such orders discourage journalists from reporting on the functioning of the schools. “Due to Covid, the education system has been badly affected and it is the duty of journalists to highlight the failures in the system.”

School and mass education minister Samir Ranjan Dash said journalists have the right to report but some of them were disturbing teachers during school hours by entering the campuses. “Several web channel reporters are intervening in things that are not required. The way teachers and students are being tortured in the name of reporting is not justified.”

Officials on Friday wrote to school heads asking them to restrict the entry of journalists into campuses in Dhenkanal’s Kankadahad and Kendrapara. They asked them to report the unauthorised entries into school campuses to police.

The directives came after leading news channel OTV reported about the poor quality of education at a government school. The headmaster of the school was also advised to lodge a case against the channel’s reporter.

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