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Radio journalist abducted, unconfirmed reports suggest he has been freed

(CEHURDES/IFEX) - Kathmandu, July 1, 2010 - The Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES), a Kathmandu-based freedom of expression monitoring group, is extremely concerned about the safety of radio journalist Keshav Bohara, who was abducted by an unknown group in the mid-western district of Pyuthan on Wednesday, June 30.

Early reports by leading daily "Kantipur" indicate that Bohara had been freed at around 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 2 in the nearby Kapilvast district. A Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) team was said to be escorting him to his home, the news report said. The daily further reported that Bohara had been manhandled and injured during his ordeal.

According to information obtained by CEHURDES, Bohara, who worked with Radio Mandavi, a community-run FM radio station in Pyuthan district, was abducted from somewhere between the Pyuthan and Bhaluwang of Dang districts. He was last spotted having a meal at Devisthan in Pyuthan-Bhaluwang section.

The abductors called the FNJ Secretary of Pyuthan district, Deepak Bhandari, from Bohara's phone on Wednesday afternoon and informed him that Bohara was in their custody. Bhandari said he heard Bohara shouting for help and that the phone was then switched off.

Bohara had earlier informed police and local political party leaders, including Maoists, that he had been receiving threatening calls on his phone for the last few weeks. He said he started receiving threats after he reported during a live radio broadcast in mid-April that the UCPN (Maoist) party had not returned the land of Swargadari Temple Trust that they had captured during the armed conflict five years ago.

"Kantipur" quoted local people as saying that Maoists could be behind Bohara's abduction, but the Maoists refuted the allegations.

CEHURDES calls upon the government of Nepal to give urgency to the issue and keep no stone unturned to ensure the safe release of Bohara. CEHURDES is especially concerned given the fluid political situation in the country following the resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal on June 30.

CEHURDES strongly condemns the abduction of journalists under any pretext and calls upon all concerned parties not to target journalists on the basis of their personal opinions.
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