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Reporters and media house attacked in Nepal

Several incidents of attacks against members of the press in Nepal were reported on 16 July 2017.

A Nepalese election commission officer empties a ballot box prior to counting the votes of local elections in Kathmandu, Nepal, 15 May 2017
A Nepalese election commission officer empties a ballot box prior to counting the votes of local elections in Kathmandu, Nepal, 15 May 2017

AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha

Media person threatened with attack, media house attacked

A group of drunk locals threatened and attempted to attack senior journalist Sarpa Lal Giri on July 13, 2017 at 6:00 pm in Bajura. Journalist Giri is editor/publisher of the Bajura Aawaj weekly and chairperson of Bajura-based Radio Budinanda 96.5 Mhz. Bajura, a far-western district in Province No 7 of Nepal.

During a conversation with Freedom Forum's media monitoring desk, journalist Giri said, "It was Thursday evening, I was on the phone, a group of 8 to 10 drunk local men encircled me chanting 'it's time to flog journalists, so we will finish you off today'. I urged them to release me but they did not; later [other local residents] aggressively attacked them. Then, they ran away and I was safe."

Immediately after that, a person named Gokarna Giri shouted saying he would kill me, added Giri.

Following this incident, some local political cadres attacked the premises of Radio Budinanda 96.5 Mhz on July 14 (Friday) at 11:00 pm.

Talking to Freedom Forum, the radio's Managing Director Anil Shahi said, "While all our staff were about to shut down the station and leave for home, a group of Nepali Congress party cadres started throwing stones at the building. Even though we escaped major injuries, the station's electric circuit has been damaged. Hence, the station is closed."

"A complaint has been lodged in the nearby police station, but the perpetrators have not been arrested yet. Now, I am going to meet the Deputy Superintendent of Police to urge him to accelerate the investigation," added Shahi.

Due to the attack, the media house suffered damages of around Rs 300,000 (US$2,915), affecting 11 media persons working there.

To Freedom Forum's question about the reason for the attack, journalist Giri said that the place was always hostile to the media; hence this is a concerted effort to suppress the media and keep it under control.

Freedom Forum draws the serious attention of concerned authorities to the attack on the media house as well as on the media persons. FF therefore strongly urges the authorities to immediately arrest the attackers and take action to protect press freedom and reduce impunity.

Unknown assailants attack reporters

A district reporter in Bajura with Image Television, Chakka Bahadur Malla, was attacked by a gang of unknown assailants on 13 July (Thursday) while returning home to the station's headquarters in Martadi at 2:30 pm. Bajura district lies in Province 7 of Nepal.

In a conversation with Freedom Forum, Malla said, "While I was returning home from Bajura's headquarters in Martadi after a meeting with municipality and election officers, a group of 15-20 persons came all of sudden and attacked me. Meanwhile, when I tried to escape and flee, the attackers hit me on the head and different parts of my body."

According to Malla, the gang was under the leadership of a person named Nar Bahadur Raut, who usually threatens and harasses local residents in Bajura. He also confirmed that he doesn't have any personal grudges with the gang at all. Even after he showed them his identity card the gang did not stop, added Malla.

Along with Malla, some locals and municipality officers were also held by the gang.

Afterwards, he lodged a complaint at the Metropolitan Police Office, in Bajura, informing them about the incident and the gang has been arrested as well.

Similarly, in a separate incident, a correspondent with Radio Paurakhi 90.4 broadcast from Bajura, Devendra Nath, was pelted with stones by an unknown group while reporting on the vote counting on 30 June.

"A group of locals threw stones at me outside the vote counting site, however, despite some minor injuries nothing major happened. Later, the attackers apologized for the incident," the reporter said.

Freedom Forum vehemently condemns the attack on the journalist. Attacking a journalist merely because of their profession -their right to free reporting- is a serious concern. It is a sheer violation of press freedom. FF urges the concerned bodies to investigate the case and respect journalists' right to free reporting. The local authorities must stay informed to provide security and prevent any further attack.

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