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One journalist found dead, another receives death threat; media vehicle attacked

(FNJ/IFEX) - On 16 September 2007 Sanker Panthi, a correspondent for the Butwal-based daily newspaper "Naya Satta", was found dead with injuries over his head and body on the Mahendra Highway, in Sunwal, Nawalparasi district.

According to Keshav Parajuli, the president of FNJ's Nawalparasi chapter, Panthi met his fate while on his way to collect news about the destruction by locals of a Young Communist League (YCL) office on the same night. His body was found in front of a local gas station. The cause and motive for his death are not yet known.

Panthi's body was taken to Lumbini Hospital in Butwal from the District Hospital at Nawalparasi after YCL cadres demanded that the autopsy be done by a three-member team of doctors. The autopsy report has not yet been published.

The FNJ is saddened by the death of its fellow journalist and has urged the police to investigate the incident as soon as possible.

In a separate incident, Dilli Bahadur Satyal, a correspondent of the daily newspaper "Kantipur", published in Kathmandu, was threatened with death by a local businessman on 16 September in Doti, a far western district.

According to Udhav Singh Dhant, president of FNJ's Doti Chapter, Satyal was threatened in relation to a satirical column published in the "Dipayel Post" weekly a few weeks earlier. A pen-name accompanied the column, but the local businessmen thought that it was written by Satyal, said Dhant. Satyal received similar threats six months before.

FNJ condemns the incident ands asserts that it is wrong to threaten journalists for writing news. If a news item is found to be objectionable, then the offended person or group should file a complaint with the newspaper and the Press Council of Nepal. FNJ urges the government to take strong action against the guilty in this case and to provide protection to media persons.

In a third incident, a vehicle belonging to Kantipur Publications was vandalized on 16 September by locals of Naubise in Dhading, a district in the central region of Nepal.

According to Yubaraj Acharya, the president of FNJ's Kantipur chapter, the vehicle was vandalized by locals protesting the death of two girls due to an electrical short-circuit on 13 September. The driver, Purushottam Koirala, and his companion, Nitesh Parajuli, sustained injuries during the attacks, which took place while the vehicle was on its way back to the Kathmandu office after distributing newspapers. The vehicle was partly damaged, said Acharya.

FNJ condemns the attack and urges all parties to refrain from hindering media from disseminating news freely and fairly.

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