The security forces on 9 January released Sitaram Parajuli, executive editor of the weekly Shram. He told Reporters Without Borders that he was held blindfolded and in solitary confinement for 13 days. Military interrogators questioned him about his sources of information and used threats to try to obtain his contacts with Maoist leaders. Before releasing him in central Kathmandu, the soldiers threatened him with reprisals if he released any details about his detention.
Two journalists held by army, two others beaten by police
Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about physical attacks by police on journalists in Dailekh and Nepalgunj yesterday, the arrest of Shram editor Sitaram Parajuli without a warrant on 28 December and the fact that the army is still holding Rajdhani correspondent Shakti Kumar Pun despite having rescued him last month from Maoist rebels.
The organisation wrote to Prime Minister and Defence Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to request the release of those held and an investigation into recent attacks.
"The kidnapping of Sitaram Parajuli and the detention of Shakti Kumar Pun once again show that the Nepalese army is trying to install a climate of fear in the press community," the letter said. Four other journalists are currently detained in Nepal.
Parajuli, who edits the Kathmandu-based independent weekly Shram, was abducted by plain-clothes members of the security forces who went to his home in the Kathmandu district of New Baneswor, blindfolded him and took him away in an unmarked car, Reporters Without Borders was told by his brother, Bishnu Prasad Parajuli. It is not known why he was arrested or where he is being held.
Pun, a provincial correspondent for the national daily Rajdhani, is currently being held by the Royal Nepalese Army in a barracks in Pyuthan, in the centre-west of the country.
He was kidnapped by a group of Maoist rebels on about 18 November in the western district of Rukum. The army rescued him from the rebels during December but has since detained him for "interrogation." Army spokesman Deepak Gurung said he would be released after an investigation, but could be summoned for further questioning "if needed."
In yesterday’s incident in the western locality of Dailekh, Bhupendra Sahi of the state-owned daily Gorkhapatra was attacked by a policeman as he was photographing the place where local ruling party official Dil Bahadur Rana had just been killed by Maoist rebels. Sahi was with Naman Kumar Sahi, the local representative of the human rights group INSEC. Both of them were hit by the policeman who accused them of defending the Maoists.
In the southwestern town of Nepalgunj, community radio reporter Roshan Puri was roughed up by the police while preparing a report. The police promised an investigation. Puri works for Lumbini FM, based in the central locality of Butuwal.