Activists of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN—Maoist) vandalized the office of the far western Dhangadi-based Sudursandesh daily on July 5, Monday for allegedly publishing anti-Maoist materials.
A group of Maoist cadres headed by the party’s district committee member Tikaram Sapkota also assaulted some staffers of the newspaper.
“They barged into the building asking for the editor and then started attacking us indiscriminately,” said Prayag Raj Joshi, who sustained deep cut wounds on his head when Sapkota attacked him with a chair. He was admitted to Seti Zonal Hospital.
As the Maoists could not find the daily’s editor and publisher Hemanta Poudel at the office, they vented their ire on the office furniture, computers and employees.
Durga Bhandari, the daily’s chief reporter, said the Maoists would have killed Poudel had they found him at the office. Poudel was at Tikapur when the incident occurred. By the time police reached the scene, the attackers had left the place.
The Sunday’s edition of Sudursandesh had printed a news story on Sapkota extorting Rs. 1,20,000 from Munna Damai of Shripur VDC. Monday’s issue of the daily carried an editorial on the Maoists’ terror in Kailali. Meanwhile, Poudel said the Maoists had been issuing threats to him for publishing anti-Maoist news and editorials. Freedom Forum strongly denounces the incident and calls on the government to take immediate action against the guilty of the incident. This is the second incident against press by Maoist cadres during this week. The Forum urges the Maoist leadership to adhere to the press freedom and shun the tendency to attack journalists in a bid to silence the media. Once the Maoists have entered the peaceful politics, rampant attacks and harassment from their cadres are against the constitution and other legal provisions. Maoist leadership should be accountable to the incident and should show the courage to help bring perpetrators to book. Further, the Forum asks local security apparatus to provide enough security to the journalists and media organization.