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Nepalese journalist detained, severely beaten by authorities for covering Bhutanese refugees' march

(FNJ/IFEX) - On 29 May 2007, Daya Ram Dahal, a Jhapa district-based journalist with "Janaganatantra Daily" and "Janabidroha Radio", was arrested by Indian security personnel at Mechi Bridge. The bridge connects India and Jhapa district in eastern Nepal.

Dahal was detained as he was reporting Bhutanese refugees' "long march" to their homeland via India.

The Indian government has filed a writ petition against Dahal on the charge of "border encroachment".

According to Krishna Humagain, president of the Jhapa chapter of FNJ, Dahal was severely beaten by Indian security personnel. He is presently undergoing medical treatment at North Bengal Medical College in Bagdogra district of West Bengal, India. The journalist is covered with bruises all over his body and is reported to be in critical condition, Humagain reported to FNJ.

Humagain also complained that the Indian police have not allowed FNJ representatives and Dahal's family members to visit him at the hospital. The victim is under tight security of armed police personnel. Indian officials refuse to divulge any information on his condition. Humagain, however, obtained the information about his whereabouts from his source and managed to see the journalist for about one and a half minutes.

FNJ's Jhapa chapter has submitted a memorandum to the president of India to secure Dahal's release.

According to the Indo-Nepal treaty of 1950, Nepalese citizens do not need visas to enter India. Ever since, tens of thousands of Nepalese and Indians travel freely across the border on a daily basis.

FNJ has condemned the illegal detention of the journalist and has urged the Indian authorities to release him unconditionally and immediately.

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