Reporters Without Borders today strongly condemned an upsurge in attacks on press freedom in Nepal after three media offices were attacked and more than a score of journalists threatened or physically assaulted.
Among the series of attacks, demonstrating the growing risk facing the media in Nepal, were an attempted strangulation, a bomb attack that left one journalist seriously injured, vandalism and besieging of journalists in their offices.
“Even though the violence is not as bad as during the monarchy, the situation is very worrying,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. The republic should protect press freedom and put an end to the former practices of the monarchy, both in the capital and in the furthest flung districts.”
“The authorities should urgently guarantee the safety of journalists and punish those responsible for attacks on them. But it is just as vital for the political parties to take steps to ensure that their members stop behaving as enemies of the press,” the organisation said.
“We salute the work of the Federation of Nepali Journalists, which has for several years campaigned to defend press freedom. It is time that all parties and groups in the country react positively to the journalists’ appeals”, the organisation added.
Physical attacks on journalists have continued in the past few weeks, highlighting yet again the dangers that journalists face in Nepal.
Lavadev Dhungana, a correspondent of the Kathmandu Post daily, was attacked by student members of the far-left CPN-UML party as he going to his office in the eastern town of Panchthar on 26 July. CPN-UML members later threatened him after he reported that he had been attacked. The day before, students had seized a Kantipur Publications vehicle used to deliver newspapers to neighbouring districts.
Employees of a transport company in the city of Pokhara (200 km west of Kathmandu) threw stones at D.R. Pokharel, a reporter with the local daily Pokhara, as he tried to cover a clash between them and members of a student union on 24 July. Pokharel sustained serious injuries to the head, back and a hand.
On 20 July, Rajdhan Rai and Kishor Budhathoki, respectively correspondents for the dailies Naya Patrika and Annapurna Post, were assaulted by a gang of about 20 people in Khandbari, eastern Nepal after they wrote an article accusing them of stealing equipment from the offices of the district development committee.
A gang of about 25 members of the community group (Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MPFF) vandalised the offices of the daily Kripa in Birjung in the south of Nepal on 16 July. They also assaulted the editor, Kamal Upadhyay, and a journalist, Jeetendra Kumar Sah.
A time bomb exploded in the same town, leaving journalist Prakash Tiwari of the daily Satya Sandesh, seriously injured. He was taken to the Narayani Sub-Regional Hospital in Birjung.
The offices of the dailies Hamar Pahura Daily and Gardener Offset Press were attacked in Kailali in the west of the country on 15 July. The journalists were insulted and then locked into their offices.
On 11 July, editor of the weekly Kavre Post, Bishnu Prasad Chaulagain, was attacked by a group of individuals who tried to strangle him. He managed to get away from them.