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Television team assaulted; Maoist supporters set fire to copies of daily

(FNJ/IFEX) - On the morning of 11 June 2009, at approximately 9:00 a.m. (local time), employees of Casino Venus assaulted and severely injured Dilliraj Pokhrel, a correspondent for Avenues Television, and camera operator Niran Raj Bana. Casino Venus is located on the premises of Hotel Malla in Lazimpat.

Pokhrel and Bana went to the casino on 10 June to report on a police raid. On the morning of 11 June, the two media workers were called back to the area by the casino employees and asked to report on another incident of a scuffle between police and the casino employees in Hotel Malla. When they reached the casino premises, Pokhrel and Bana were suddenly attacked by a group of 50-60 people. Pokhrel sustained severe injuries all over his body whereas Bana suffered some wounds on his face. The assailants damaged the camera Bana was carrying.

The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) has strongly condemned the incident and has demanded that proper compensation be provided for the damaged camera. FNJ believes that the attacks carried out on Pokhrel and Bana were pre planned as they were called back to the casino to report on an incident. FNJ strongly demands that the government take appropriate action against those involved in the incident. FNJ also feels that repeated attacks on media workers and journalists while they are on duty are condemnable.

In a separate incident, on 11 June Maoist activists seized copies of "Kantipur" daily in Rupandehi district and set all the copies on fire. The copies of "Kantipur" were being sent for distribution. Maoist supporters took control of the vehicle that was carrying the copies at 7:30 a.m. and torched all of them. The torching of a daily newspaper whose only objective is to disseminate information to people is a condemnable act, said FNJ. The organisation strongly condemned this act and demanded that the government identify the people involved and take legal action. FNJ also appealed to all parties to act responsibly and ensure that this kind of activity does not take place in the future.
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