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Journalists intimidated, harassed while covering protests

UPDATE: Banda supporters attack, manhandle journalists (Freedom Forum, 18 May 2012)

(Freedom Forum/IFEX) - With the 27 May 2012 deadline for the constitution promulgation fast approaching in the country, individuals in various regions have mounted pressure programs in a bid to have their demands addressed in the new constitution.

The media have been facing difficulties while trying to cover these lobbying actions and protests.

Citizens in the far western region have waged a banda (general shutdown) for two weeks, in aid of their demands to keep the present region undivided while the country is restructured.

The demonstrators have intimidated journalists, pressuring them to write reports in favour of their protests and demands.

Talking to Freedom Forum's Media Monitoring Desk, Tekendra Deuba, reporter with the Annapurnapost daily from Doti, said, "We are facing hard times because of the pressure by the demonstrators to write in their favour. The demonstrators have begun chanting slogans against media and journalists."

He added that journalists are frightened and not able to move about freely to cover the news because of the security threat.

Prakash Bam, Tek Chanda and Karna Chanda, of the local Triveni FM in Doti district, were recently threatened and asked why they did not write about a protest.

Moreover, Mohan Sahi with the Kantipur daily also suffered intimidation, Deuba said.

Meanwhile, Nawaraj Khanal, a reporter with the Mountain television from Kailali district, said that he, Ranga Timalsina of the Dhangadhi Post daily and Devraj Joshi of the Swarnim Nepal weekly were harassed by demonstrators on 9 May in Dhangadhi bazaar while they were reporting on a demonstration.

In a separate incident, on 10 May a vehicle belonging to the Nagarik daily was vandalised at Inaruwa Chowk of Sunsari, a district in the southern plain of eastern Nepal.

According to the Nagarik daily, the vehicle was vandalised by members of a Muslim community while it was returning after the newspaper had been distributed.

The assailants were demonstrating at Inaruwa as part of the Nepal banda (nationwide shutdown) organized by the Brahmin, Chhetri, Muslim and other communities.

Freedom Forum is highly concerned about these incidents and urges the concerned administrations to provide ample security to the journalists and help protect and promote people's right to information.

Finally, in a separate development, Freedom Forum has learnt that a reporter with the National News Agency (RSS) of Nepal, Prakash Silwal, received a death threat in the capital on 27 April.

Silwal told Freedom Forum, "A group of unknown persons came to my home; they asked my wife about me when I was out of the house in the evening. Without any reason, they said- we will kill him."

According to the journalist, the assailants also smashed a windowpane.

Freedom Forum condemns the incident and demands that the administration provide security for Silwal in order to avert a possible attack on him.

MORE INFORMATION:

Journalists manhandled (Federation of Nepali Journalists, 17 May 2012)

Mistreatment of journalists continues during banda (Freedom Forum, 13 May 2012)

Demonstrators manhandle journalists, vandalise vehicle (Freedom Forum, 11 May 2012)

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