The young editor of the weekly New Malika, Nagendra Upadhyaya, was freed on 3 January after being held for six months for supposedly helping a Maoist rebel. He was released two weeks after completing his sentence on the decision of the Kailali district security bureau. He will now have to report to the police every two weeks. He was arrested on 20 July under the anti-terrorist law and was put in Dhangadhi prison. He was reportedly mistreated.
One journalist still remains in prison in Nepal. He is Tejnarayan Sapkota of the newspaper Yojana, who has been imprisoned since November 2003.
More than 55 journalists arrested and beaten at pro-democracy demonstrations
Reporters Without Borders has protested at the Nepalese security forces actions since the start of the month during which they have beaten and arrested at least 55 journalists who were reporting on or joining pro-democracy demonstrations.
“Journalists covering marches opposing King Gyanendra are facing the same levels of brutality as those taking part,” it said. “Since the Maoists declared a ceasefire on 3 September, the crackdown has been stepped up to break the advance of the democratic parties. We call for an end to police brutality and for the right to demonstrate peacefully”.
Police on 5 September clubbed a score of journalists covering a demonstration in Kathmandu that called for “an end to the dictatorship” One of them, Satyaram Parajuli, was seriously injured. Most of the Nepalese media have spoken out against this violence, that worsened still further the next day, at a new opposition rally.
On that day, 6 September, a score of journalists were beaten up, including Bharat Shahi, editor of the weekly Chuli Sandesh, Bhimsen Rajbahak, of the broadcast agency Communication Corner, Kamal Pariyar, of the weekly Jana Sangharsa, Rodan Rai, photographer for the Himalayan Times and Gyanendra Sharma, cameraman for Nepal One TV. Bharat Shahi was beaten about the head by both uniform and plain-clothes police and was rushed to hospital with very serious injuries. Several witnesses reported that an officer - Ganesh KC - gave the order to arrest journalists covering the demonstrations.
Three days later, on 9 September, police arrested at least 34 writers and journalists who were shouting slogans in support of greater freedom of expression, in Bhotahiti, in central Kathmandu. They were held for six hours at Mahendra police station before being released.
Finally, on 13 September, more than 500 demonstrators, including several journalists, were again manhandled and arrested by police in the capital. At least five of the journalists, including Tilak Mahat, a reporter for the regional daily Lumbini Dainik, and Suresh Sainju, were severely clubbed.
This wave of arrests comes after the arrest on 20 July, of Nagendra Upadhyaya, managing editor of the weekly New Malika, based in Teekapur in Kailali district in the far west of Nepal, and reporter for the daily Abhiyan in Mahendranagar, in the same region. The journalist was placed in custody under the ant-terror law, TADO. He was accused by the local administration of helping Maoist militants. A colleague told Reporters Without Borders that the authorities had not produced any proof.
The organisation pointed out that journalists Maheshwor Pahari, of the local weekly Rastriya Swabhiman and Tejnarayan Sapkota, of the weekly Yojana, are both still being held in jail.