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Journalists assaulted, threatened over article about police corruption; another threatened over article about abusive teacher

(FNJ/IFEX) - On 3 July 2007, the news editor of "Samyantra" weekly, Bhojraj Basnet, and the publication's editor, Ambika Bhandari, were assaulted and threatened by two police officers over a 2 July news article. The incident took place in Belbari, Morang, an eastern district in Nepal.

The article, entitled "This is how police personnel are taking bribes", described the illegal operations of the police in charge of the area and implicated police constable Rajesh B.K and special constable Bhutan Mahato, among others.

The two constables beat the journalists while they were sitting near a petrol pump, saying, "Why did you write news about us? We will chase away all the journalists in the district and will jail both of you." Basnet and Bhadari, fearing the threat, are currently in hiding.

In a separate incident on 3 July, in Pyuthan, a mid-western district, journalist Pramod Pokharel was threatened over his article about a teacher, Sushila KC, who reportedly had fed cow dung to her students as punishment. The article was published in the "Mandabi" weekly, the "Naya Patrika" daily and the "Gorachhe" daily. The teacher's brother, Dil Bahadur KC, threatened the journalist, saying that the article has affected the reputation of his sister and the family.

The FNJ has condemned both incidents. That security personnel, whose duty is to ensure the safety of the public, could resort to such acts is especially condemnable. Journalists have the right to present all sides of any issue. No one can force journalists to write or disregard news in their favor. The FNJ has also demanded the government to investigate both incidents and take strict action against the guilty.

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