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Journalist receives death threat over critical coverage of Maoists; another threatened by hospital committee chairman for not reporting on health camp

(FNJ/IFEX) - On 22 April 2007, Santosh Neupane, the editor and publisher of "Narayani Express National Daily", was threatened by Maoists at Mahari Bazaar in Hetauda, where his publication is based.

Neupane was threatened for publishing news on the Maoists, including an article about the conflict between Maoists and locals on 16 April at Bashmadi, in Makawanpur, and another about the clash between a timber contractor and the Young Communist League (YCL) over the collection of money from a local bazaar on 18 April. On 20 April, the newspaper also disseminated news about the robbing of a house belonging to three people detained by Maoists and released on 19 April from the Southern Regional Jail of the Maoists, located in Hatiya village in Makawanpur.

After the publication of these stories, Maoists halted vehicle traffic in the Manahari Bazaar, in Makawanpur, demanding that Neupane come to the bazaar to ask for forgiveness. The issue was solved after a meeting involving all local political parties.

On 22 April, an unidentified person who claimed to be a Maoist telephoned Neupane, threatening to kill him and to set fire to his publishing house. Neupane stated that he has received threats whenever he reports on the Maoists.

In a separate incident, on 19 April Krishna Thapa, a correspondent with "Kantipur" daily newspaper, was threatened by Minnath Devkota, the chairman of the Rasuwa Hospital Development Committee, at Dunchhe, Rasuwa, in the Central Region of Nepal.

Devkota threatened Thapa for not reporting on the health camp organized by the hospital. He said: "I will kill these types of journalists - what are you thinking about me?"

The FNJ has condemned these incidents and has expressed its serious concern over the continuous threats against journalists. FNJ called upon the Maoists to demonstrate a commitment to freedom of the press and expression. It also urged the government to ensure the safety of journalists and to take immediate action against those guilty of threatening them.

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