NEPAL: A dozen journos flee Dailekh, Kantipur journo placed under 'house arrest'
Authorities threaten journalists into leaving the district of Dailekh and place Kantipur correspondent under house arrest
Monday, September 19, 2005
AsiaMedia Editor's Note: Reports are unclear as to whether the lifting of the state of emergency on April 30 allows for press freedom, and thus Nepalnews may still be operating under the directives of King Gyanendra.
Nearly one dozen reporters based in mid-western district of Dailekh have left the district amidst threat from local authorities.
The reporters left the district accompanied by a group of human rights activists after concluding that the district was not safe for independent journalists.
Dailekh administration has, however, barred local correspondent of Kantipur daily Harihar Singh Rathore from leaving the district.
Talking to Nepalnews over phone Monday afternoon, Rathore said police had encircled his house and that he was not allowed to move out of his residence. He did not want to talk at length but appealed rights groups and media fraternity to help him and other journalists from the district.
According to reports, local administration has alleged Rathore of being a Maoist sympathiser and drawing monthly salary from the insurgents. Rathore dismisses such allegations terming them as baseless. On Sunday, a group of rights activists and journalists -- who had reached Dailekh to mediate on the issue -- held talks with heads of security agencies and civil administration in the district. Local authorities then agreed to allow local journalists to leave the district except Rathore. District Administration Office is said to be preparing a charge sheet against Rathore alleging him of being a Maoist informer, among others.
A few weeks back, Rathore had filed a dispatch saying that local unit of Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) has mobilised children to gather information of rebel activities. RNA promptly refuted the news report. Rathore said he has been receiving threats from security forces since then. Interestingly, he was also among the journalists enlisted by Maoists to 'eliminate' them for working against the 'people's liberation.' Last year, the insurgents abducted and killed Dekendra Raj Thapa who used to work as Dailekh district correspondent for the state-run Radio Nepal.
Journalists who have fled the district amid threats from local authorities include Mrs. Meena Swarnakar (Dhwoni weekly), Ms Bindu Shahi (Kakrebihar daily). Ms Asha Kafle (Mechi Kali daily), Kamal Neupane (Nepal Samacharpatra daily), Bhupendra Khadka (Bheri F. M.), Yam Raj Katuwal (Naya Samrachana daily), Umesh KC (Karnali Post), Puskar Thapa (Suseli daily), Janak Neupane (Dristi weekly), Sitaram Jaisi (Yugbani weekly), Dirgha Thapa (Budhabar weekly) and Khem Raj Thapa (Samata weekly).
The group, including regional coordinator of CVICT Suresh Gautam, a representative of HIMRIGHTS and Kantipur correspondent in Nepalgunj J. Pandey, is expected to reach Nepalgunj this afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) has alleged that the state is trying to intimidate journalists by fabricating false cases against them. 'This episode is part of a systematic and on-going assault launched by the state against the media,' the Federation said.
The Federation has decided to send a five-member fact finding mission to Dailekh with the mandate to hold discussions with local authorities. The mission, led by FNJ general secretary Mahendra Bista, has FNJ central committee member Purna Bista, editor of Kantipur daily Narayan Wagle, editor of The Kathmandu Post daily Prateek Pradhan and Bhola Mahat representative of rights group, INSEC, as its members.
The authorities have not said anything regarding continuous threats being faced by journalists in Dailekh.
Date Posted: 9/19/2005