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Nepalese politician threatens journalist over news report

(Freedom Forum/IFEX) - 11 October 2012 - Freedom Forum has recently become informed of two press freedom violations.

On 9 October 2012, Bikas Agrawal, a reporter with the local Bypass daily from Rautahat, a district in the southern plain of the country, was threatened by a district level leader of the Sadbhavana Party. Agrawal received the threat in connection with a news story about an obstruction and a protest against a minister.

Talking to Freedom Forum's Media Monitoring Desk, journalist Agrawal said that district leader Shekh Jadsed threatened him, saying, "Why did you write about Health Minister Rajendra Mahato? It is not good news. So, I'll attack you."

Agrawal said he had reported on the fact that some youth organisations had waived black flags in protest against Minister Mahato when the minister travelled to the district.

In a separate case, journalist Kabiraj BC received a death threat over the telephone.

According to the journalist, the unknown caller said, "Aren't you a journalist? I'm a don. I'll slit your throat and finish you."

The threat was received on 9 October for no apparent reason, said BC, a reporter with the Gorkhapatra daily and ABC television from Dailekh, a far western district of the country.

According to Freedom Forum, the first incident is an indication of political leaders' hostility towards media freedom as they do not want to see anything negative being reported about their parties and leaders. Agrawal came under attack even though he was simply conveying facts.

Similarly, BC received the threat merely because he works for the media. Nepalese journalists are targeted time and again by different sectors and work under a lot of pressure which can result in self-censorship.

Freedom Forum condemns both incidents and strongly urges the Sadbhavana Party to be aware and respectful of media freedom, journalists' rights and people's right to information. Similarly, the concerned security bodies in both cases need to seek the persons involved in issuing the threats and mete out the appropriate action.

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