Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) today deplored the gratuitous beating inflicted on journalist Deepak Pandey by two allegedly inebriated police officers yesterday in Kathmandu, and it voiced its concern that further journalists could suffer at the hands of the security forces in the prevailing climate of impunity.
"Such physical attacks on a journalist covering a story must be punished, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a letter to Inspector General of Police Pradeep Shamsher J.B. Rana. "It is your duty to carry out an investigation and take disciplinary measures against these two officers," Ménard said.
On October 8, an experienced reporter with the Space Time Daily, Pandey was covering a fire at a furniture store in the centre of Kathmandu when he was violently beaten by Inspector Sukdev Neupane and Deputy Inspector Amrit Shrestha of the nearby Kamalpokhari police station. According to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), the two police officers punched and kicked Pandey, and stole a gold chain and the equivalent of Euros 100 from him. The FNJ said the two officers were in civilian dress and inebriated at the time.
Unaware that his aggressors were policemen, Pandey appealed for help to other police officers present. However, the latter detained him and placed him in a police vehicle, in which he continued to be beaten until they brought him to a hospital. There the police tried to pass him off as someone who was inebriated, but the hospital’s chief doctor refused to sign a document incriminating him. The police were finally obliged to release Pandey after a senior officer intervened.
According to doctors, Pandey’s condition is giving cause for concern. His body is covered with bruises, he is vomiting blood and he appears to have sustained internal injuries as a result of the beating.