Yet again, Itahari Sub-Metropolitan City's Mayor Dwariklal Chaudhary issued threat of attack on Sunsari based journalist Birat Gautam on June 4. Itahari lies in the southern plains of Province 1.
Birat Gautam is the news chief of local Koshipatra daily and also associated with the on online news portal www.nepalsamaya.com run from the federal capital, Kathmandu.
In a telephonic conversation with FF, journalist Gautam said, ''I had posted a photo with a national player in Facebook. Then, Mayor Chaudhary who is also my friend in Facebook commented on the post that journalists are chatukar patrukaar (lackey substandard being).''
Later, when journalist Gautam called Mayor Chaudhary to know why he made such comment, Mayor Chaudhary roared that he had allocated 'Rs. 10 million to break his nose.'
Mayor Chaudhary can he heard saying, 'I've allocated Rs 10 million to attack and break your nose. I have allocated even a plot of land for the amount to assault you." Moreover, he threatened that he had mobilized a local leader from the ruling Nepal Communist Party was mobilized to attack the journalist.
Earlier, Mayor Chaudhary had ill-treated with Sunsari based journalists duo Krishna Bahab Bhattarai and Bikal Regmi who were reporting about a staff the Mayor manhandled at his office. It had drawn huge criticism, resulting in his statement of apology and respect to press freedom.
Freedom Forum Province 1 stringer, Bikram Niraula, shared that the family of journalist Gautam was panicked over the threat and even suggested him to quit the journalism.
Later, to an interview with a television, Mayor Chaudhary reiterated that he was dead against journalists and would assault them any time. Referring to the names of various communist and Maoist leaders as Mao, Stalin and their dictatorship, Mayor Chaudhary even warned of control on entire media.
Meanwhile, some leaders of his party, Nepal Communist Party- have expressed serious concern over Mayor Chaudhary's public threat to journalists and urged him with seek apology.
FF vehemently condemns the incident as it is sheer violation of press freedom. Journalists have the right to report the issues of public concern. They are the frontline human rights defenders and must not be intimidated for free reporting.
Being the people's representative, Mayor is a public and responsible person, but such response to journalist is deplorable. Such activities are against the individual of journalist, spreading panic in the entire media fraternity.
The Mayor must apologize for his threat, and commit both in written in action the respect to free press and journalists' rights. He is in need of building trust with media.
For More Information,
Freedom Forum, Kathmandu