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Writer receives death threat from underground group

(Freedom Forum/IFEX) - On 21 August 2010, the Terai Janatantrik Party, an underground group, issued a death threat against Damodar Bhandari, a correspondent with the "Annapurna Post" daily, based in Nepalgunj, a district located in the mid-western part of Nepal.

A press statement sent by the Terai Janatantrik Party accused Bhandari of working against their activities and mission. They have dubbed Bhandari as "some element within the journalism sector, which has been working as our enemy".

In an e-mail sent to local media persons on 21 August, Banke-Bardiya, a member of the group, threatened to take action against the journalist.

According to Bhandari, this is the second time the group has threatened his life. "I am under psychological pressure and tension," Bhandari told the Press Freedom Monitoring Desk of Freedom Forum over the phone. "I am not sure whether they will take any unpleasant action against me."

Bhandari has not so far written any news items directly connected with the Terai Janatantrik Party. However, according to the journalist, the lack of coverage of the group's activities might be a reason behind the life-threatening statement against him.

Most notably, the group wrote: "He (Bhandari) may also come across the fate of the late Arun Singhaniya." Arun Singhaniya, a renowned media mogul in Nepal, was shot dead in Janakpur on 3 March 2010.

Freedom Forum is concerned over the incident. "This kind of threat compels journalists to work under psychological intimidation that eventually affects their professionalism," Freedom Forum has concluded. Freedom Forum asks the government to provide security to the journalist and bring the guilty to book as soon as possible.

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