- Hindustan Times (Mumbai)
- Priya Ranjan Sahu ■ [email protected]
Laxman Choudhury, working as a reporter for leading Odia daily Sambad for the remote Mohana block exposed the nexus between ganja traders and the police though a series of stories in the publication. On September 20, 2009, the police seized a packet addressed to Choudhury in which alleged ‘Maoist literature’ was found. Choudhury was arrested soon after for being the ‘intended’ (not the actual) recipient of the packet.
He was then slapped with a plethora of charges including sedition and criminal conspiracy and sent to jail. The newspaper stall Choudhury ran was closed for days and his wife Binita had to fend for herself along with their four-year old daughter.
But help poured in as Choudhury’s arrest sparked statewide protests. Mounting public pressure made the authorities withdraw some of the more outrageous charges against Choudhury and that helped him get bail. However, by the time that happened, he had already spent 73 days in jail.
Interestingly, two months after Choudhury secured bail, the inspector who was responsible for his arrest was himself arrested by the vigilance department. He was caught taking a 35,000 bribe from a
ganja trader. The incident further vindicated the reporter’s stand about the policeganja trader nexus. “The overwhelming support I got from fellow journalists, my newspaper and from the common man made me feel that I was not wrong,” says Choudhury, who still works for Sambad.