Reporters Without Borders today condemned an increase in violence and repressive measures against journalists in Nepal, in which a provincial newspaper editor was shot and badly wounded in his office yesterday and at least four journalists were arrested during protests against the king in the past week.
The press freedom organization called for a thorough investigation to determine the circumstances and motives for the shooting of editor Khagendra Shrestha yesterday in the eastern town of Dharan. It also requested the immediate release of the four detained journalists - Sharad Adhikari, Arjun Dhanuk, Ganesh Lama and Suryaa Thapa.
The editor of the Dharan Today daily newspaper, Shrestha was shot twice in the head in his office by two gunmen, who got away without being stopped. He was taken to a local hospital and then to Siliguri, in northeastern India, for treatment and was reported to be in a very serious condition. The security forces said they thought the Maoist rebels were behind the shooting, but there was no immediate claim from the Maoists.
Adhikari, a reporter for the satellite TV station Channel Nepal, was arrested on 14 March in the western town of Ghorahi while covering a pro-democracy demonstration. He was taken to the district police station in Ghorahi and it was feared he could spend three months in prison.
The editor of the weekly Abhimat, Dhanuk was arrested the same day after a protest against King Gyanendra in the western town of Mahendranagar. A member of the People’s Front Nepal (PFN), a communist leftist party, he was transferred to the police station of the Kanchanpur district.
Lama, a reporter for the weekly Jana Prahaar, was arrested on 13 March in the capital, Kathmandu, while covering a demonstration against the king. He is being held at the Ward police station in the Kamal Pokhari district of Kathmandu.
Thapa, a reporter for the weekly Haank and leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN-UCM), was arrested on 8 March while taking part in a meeting organized by political parties to mark International Women’s Day. She is being held in the Mahendra police station in Kathmandu.
As a Nepalese delegation was participating in the opening of the UN human rights commission’s annual session in Geneva on 14 March, many demonstrations were held in Nepal to protest against King Gyanendra’s seizure of full powers on 1 February. Hundreds were arrested when the security forces dispersed the protests.