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Journalists attacked in four separate incidents involving security personnel, political groups

(FNJ/IFEX) - On 13 February 2008, Ganesh Sah, a news correspondent with Janaki FM, was attacked by security personnel in Golbazar, Siraha, a district in the east.

According to Dineshwor Prasad Gupta, the president of FNJ's Siraha Chapter, Sah was beaten by Armed Police Force personnel while he was covering a clash between cadres of the Madhesi Morcha political group and members of the police force. Police attacked Sah, claiming that he was there to burn police vehicles. They later brought the injured journalist to Lahan Hospital and forced the doctor to write a false report claiming that Sah was inebriated. Sah sustained head injuries that required eight stitches and is undergoing treatment at the hospital.

FNJ condemns the attack on media personnel by security personnel and is very concerned about the growing threats directed against journalists from every side. FNJ finds it extremely distressing that journalists are being threatened and attacked time and again by those who are in charge of the security of the nation. FNJ urges the government to punish the security personnel involved in the attack and to be more serious in providing sufficient security to media personnel.

In another incident, Bijaya Kumar Pathak, the editor and publisher of "Birat Darpan", a local weekly, was attacked by cadres of the Madheshi People's Rights Forum (MPRF) in Mahavir Chowk, Biratnagar, in the eastern Morang region, on 16 February.

FNJ's Morang Chapter said MPRF cadres asked Pathak why he had not reported their news when he gathered information about the protest organized by MPRF and Federal Republic National Front (FRNF). The cadres also damaged Pathak's motorcycle. MPRF and FRNF have called for an indefinite strike from 13 February onwards.

The FRNF was also involved in another attack on a journalist. Subodh Singh Tharu, a cameraperson with Nepal Television, was attacked by cadres of FRNF and the United Democratic Madheshi Front (UDMF) at around 1:00 p.m. (local time) in Banke, Nepalgunj, mid-western region, on 17 February.

According to FNJ treasurer Hemanta Kafle, Tharu was set upon while he was on the way to take pictures of the protest. The protesters have banned photographs of their protest. UDMF, too, has joined MPRF and FRNF's strike.

Meanwhile, on 15 February, Gokul Shrestha and Amrit Bhatta, reporter and cameraperson, respectively, of Sagarmatha Television, were attacked by a mob in Bhaktapur, Sallaghari, a district neighboring the capital city, Kathmandu.

According to FNJ Bhaktapur Chapter's president Narayan Sundar Kilambu, a group of assailants attacked the two journalists while they were covering the rally by locals against the police's lenient treatment of Mike Deula and his father, who had allegedly killed Krishna Prasad Suwal of Bhaktapur's Ward 14 on the night of 13 February.

Kilambu said that the protesters burnt the journalists' motorcycle and broke Bhatta's camera. The journalists had scratches on their hands.

FNJ condemns all attacks on journalists and urges protesters not to hinder journalists from carrying out their duties. FNJ urges the groups concerned to take a strong action against the assailants and respect the right of journalists to carry out their duties.

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