Reporters Without Borders welcomed the release, on March 11, of investigative reporter JB Pun Magar of the fort-nightly magazine Himal Khabarpatrika. The news agency Agence France-Presse quoted the magazine’s editor, Rajendra Dahal, as saying Magar had been kidnapped by a pro-government self-defence militia, and not Maoist rebels, as originally reported by the local press and Reporters Without Borders.
"He was not physically tortured, but he was transported blindfolded from one place to another for three days," Dahal said. "He was psychologically tortured."
Maoist rebels kidnap leading investigative journalist
Reporters Without Borders today condemned the kidnapping of respected investigative reporter JB Pun Magar of the fort-nightly magazine Himal Khabarpatrika, who was abducted by Maoist rebels yesterday in the Kapilbastu district southwest of Kathmandu.
The press freedom organization said it called on the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) to free Magar in accordance with the instructions that a Maoist leader, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, issued publicly in September 2004 to his guerrilla troops for the release of all the journalists they were holding.
The PCN-M is currently holding two other journalists: Radio Nepal presenter Dhana Bahadur Rokka Magar, who was kidnapped by rebels in the western Nepal in August 2002, and Kul Bahadur Malla, the newspaper Karnali Sandesh’s correspondent in western Nepal, who was kidnapped in June 2003. The CPN-M’s top leader, Comrade Prachanda, is on the Reporters Without Borders worldwide list of predators of press freedom.
Kapilbastu, the region where Magar was kidnapped, has seen very violent clashes since 20 February between Maoist groups and self-defence militia supported by the government’s security forces.
Magar recently wrote an investigative report headlined "Giving the children a chance to fight," about the recruitment of child soldiers by the Maoists. It was Magar who also revealed that more than 600 houses in this region were torched by anti-Maoist militia, in response to which the Maoists murdered 10 people for being "enemies of the people."
"He is a professional, objective and fair journalist who has undertaken some of the toughest reporting jobs," said Himal Khabarpatrika editor Rajendra Dahal, adding, "it is regrettable that the Maoists have kidnapped him precisely at the moment when the government is mistreating the press."
A graduate of the New Delhi school of journalism, Magar was detained and roughed up by the security forces in November 2004 while investigating an anti-Maoist watchdog group.
In a separate development, Kedar Chauhan, the editor of the local weekly Rashtriya Samacharpatra and a reporter for the regional daily Darshan, was injured by a bomb which Maoists had hidden under the body of a man they had just shot in Rajghat, in the eastern district of Morang. Chauhan, who had gone there to take photos and get information, has been hospitalized and is in a stable condition.