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Nepalese journalist released on bail, but authorities refuse to return his belongings

(FNJ/IFEX) - Indian security officials refused to return the camera and other items belonging to Daya Ram Dahal, a Jhapa district-based journalist with "Janaganatantra Daily" and Janabidroha Radio, after he was released on bail of 1000 rupees (approx. US$24) by a court in Siligudi on 22 June 2007.

According to local journalist Gopal Gartaula, the security officers confiscated Dahal's digital camera, mobile phone with voice recorder, mobile phone and camera chargers, earphones, official documents, identity card, 10,000 rupees, wallet and backpack. They refused to return the items when he was freed by the court or to give any explanation.

Dahal was arrested on 29 May while he was reporting on Bhutanese refugees' "long march" to their homeland via India. The Indian government has now filed nine charges against him, including "border encroachment", "participating in a movement against the Indian government" and "attacking Indian security". Dahal denies all the charges against him.

The Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) has condemned the incident and urged the Indian government to lift all the charges against Dahal as he was reporting news in the "no man's land" between Nepal and India when he was arrested. The Federation has also urged the authorities to return the journalist's belongings.

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