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Nepalese editor assaulted by engineers over story on corruption at irrigation project

This statement was originally published by Freedom Forum on 26 December 2014.

On December 25, 2014 engineers at an irrigation project in Biratnagar, a city in the eastern plains of Nepal, brutally attacked Brahmadev Yadav, guest editor with the Birat weekly. The assault was connected to a news story Yadav had published on financial irregularities and corruption plaguing the project.

Project Manager Madhukar Prasad Rajbhandari, of the Sunsari Morang Irrigation Project, called Yadav into the Project Office; there three engineers used foul language and attacked the guest editor, angered over the news story had published in his newspaper about the project a month ago.

Talking to Freedom Forum's Media Monitoring Desk, Yadav said, "Engineers Kedar Tiwari, Prem Chandra Jha and Tara Poudel thrashed me, asking why I had reported on the project's financial irregularities. They also took me to a guest house nearby and locked me up in a room for three hours. They seized my phone and threw it away. An employee at the guest house secretly released me and I fled."

Yadav further said that he received some injuries and when he reached his friends he had blood all over his face.

Questioned whether the local administration and the police have taken any action over the attack, guest editor Yadav said two engineers, Tara Poudel and Prem Chandra Jha, were arrested on the same day while Kedar Tiwari was on the run.

Meanwhile, the Chief District Officer allegedly told the guest editor Yadav to come to an agreement with the attackers.

Freedom Forum encouraged Yadav and his friends to continue their vigil and seek stringent action against the attackers. Yadav and his friends said they were filing a case of attempted murder and unlawful captivity against the engineers.

Freedom Forum vehemently condemns the attack which grossly violated press freedom and sowed fear among the journalists. The incident shows that journalists reporting on corruption are often targeted. Similarly, the CDO is strongly urged to take stringent action against the assailants, help put an end to impunity and encourage an atmosphere amenable to free reporting.

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