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Journalist threatened for taking photographs of damaged school, another over Labour Ministry story

Ashok Dulal, a journalist with Rajdhani daily, published in Kathmandu, was threatened for taking a photograph of a damaged school.

On 3 June 2015, the principal of the local Bajrabarahi Higher Secondary School of Chapagaon, Lalitpur, Rameshwor Maharjan, and his staff called the reporter into the school office, forcefully grilled him and threatened him, because he had taken a photo of the school building which was partially damaged.

Recounting the grilling, Dulal said, one of the teachers threatened him saying, that "he would abduct him from the very spot and make him disappear forever'.

"From where are you [instructed] to take a picture of this school? Whom did you ask [for permission] before taking the photo? Don't you want to survive anymore?" the teachers reportedly threatened him.

Dulal further said that he tried to explain that he was just working as a journalist and it was his normal task to take photo of any structures - schools, buildings - which are potentially unsafe for children, for the news story.

Although he escaped an attack, he was feeling concerned after the incident and informed the local police post to seek security.

It is quite shocking that the journalist received these threats right in Kathmandu. Freedom Forum vehemently condemns the incident, as a violation of press freedom. The concerned school and its teachers must respect press freedom and the authorities are urged to ensure the journalist's safety.

Minister's 'Press Advisor' threatens reporter over news report

In a separate incident also taking place in Kathmandu, Madhu Lamsal, who identified himself as 'press advisor' to Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Tek Bahadur Gurung, threatened Prakat Kumar Sishir, a reporter with Nagarik daily.

On 20 June, two unidentified youths, who called State Minister Gurung 'their brother', threatened the reporter over a story on the Labour Ministry's plan to provide free visa and tickets to Nepalis working abroad in different countries.

"'Why did you write about our brother Minister of State for Labour and Employment Tek Bahadur Gurung? If you continue writing about State Minister Gurung, you won't be left safe,' they threatened me" Sishir told Freedom Forum.

Some days later, the reporter met with and complained to Minister of State Gurung. Trying to save face, the Minister of State denied any involvement.

Freedom Forum condemns the threat against Sishir. It goes against press freedom and journalists' right to report in a free atmosphere. Moreover, individuals who claim to be close to the Minister were involved in the threat which is quite condemnable. The Minister, if they are indeed connected to him, must make them aware on the importance of press freedom and put an end to attempts to silence media freedom.

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