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CEHURDES condemns attack, looting at FM radio station

(CEHURDES/IFEX) - CEHURDES, a Kathmandu-based free expression monitoring group, condemns the attack and looting of equipment from Jana Awaz (People's Voice) FM - a community-based radio station in the far-western district of Kailali.

According to the information obtained by CEHURDES, a group of masked men barged into the offices of the FM station on the evening of November 21, 2010, took three staff members under their control and looted equipment including computers, telephone sets and compact discs. They also threatened the technical staff and journalists working in the station at the time and left after locking them up in one of the station's rooms.

The station, which was recently inaugurated by a senior Maoist leader, Dr Baburam Bhattarai, stopped its broadcasts after the attack.

The state-run Radio Nepal reported that a little-known ethnic group, "Tharuhat Terai Janata Dal", has claimed responsibility for the attack on Jana Awaz FM. The group had earlier distributed pamphlets demanding, among other things, the use of the indigenous Tharu language in government offices.

CEHURDES condemns the attack on the station, the looting of the equipment and the manhandling of the FM staff. "It's a matter of shame that police have failed to identify or arrest the group of people who forcibly entered the offices of a media outlet which is located at the district headquarters, Dhangadi," the organisation said.

CEHURDES has also called for compensation for the radio station and the provision of adequate security for the office premises and staff of Jana Awaz FM.

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