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Two journalists assaulted by protest organisers; another journalist goes missing

(FNJ/IFEX) - On 12 November 2008, Dinesh Thapa, a member of FNJ's Sindhupalchowk chapter, and Netra Paudel, a news correspondent for "Sindhu Prabaha" weekly, were attacked by organisers of a protest at the Araniko highway, in Sindhupalchowk district, central Nepal.

In a press statement, the president of FNJ's Sindhupalchowk chapter, Pabitra Kumar Khadka, said the two journalists went to the Araniko highway to gather information on the bandh (protest), which had been called for after a local citizen, Sahi Kumar Shrestha, died when a minibus ran him over. Those who called for the bandh beat the journalists for not coming to the scene promptly after they were informed of the event and for not disseminating news in their favour.

FNJ denounces the attack on the journalists and believes that no one has the right to pressure journalists to report in their favour. The federation urges the local government to ensure the safety of journalists and to punish those responsible for the assault.

In a separate incident, Jagat Joshi, a reporter for the national daily "Janadisha" and district chairman of the Revolutionary Journalists' Association, has been missing from Attariya in his home district of Kailali, in the far western region of Nepal, since 8 October, during the time of the Dashain festival.

The president of FNJ's Kailali chapter, Dirgha Raj Upadhaya, said the group has filed a report at the District Police Office. Joshi went to Attariya on 8 October and had planned to visit Kathmandu the next day but he never came back. His mobile phone has been switched off.

A mission team led by FNJ general secretary Poshan KC, with central committee member Prem KC, former vice-president Umid Wagchand and the Kailali chapter president, met with Joshi's family to learn about the condition of his family members. The mission team said they would pressure the government to find the missing journalist's whereabouts. The team also met with the Chief District Officer (CDO) and urged him to immediately locate Joshi.

FNJ is concerned about the increasing number of media rights violations in the country and calls on the government to pay greater attention to the issue. FNJ urges the government to find the missing journalist and punish those responsible for his disappearance.

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