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Public threat against journalists

In what appears to be the major catalyst to boost up self-censorship among journalists in Nepal, an unidentified group has publicly threatened journalists by placing banner and poster in an eastern Sunsari District, Dharan, for nearly a couple of week.
The group has placed the banner reading: "journalists: be aware, we will take action against you" in the major hub and intersection of the city.

Journalists in the district have accused Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Mingmar Lama of spreading such life-threatening message publicly.

Earlier, Lilanath Ghimire, a journalist working for "Fast Times Daily", was allegedly attacked and injured by a gang led by an individual named Thaman Gurung on directives of SSP Lama in the night dated on 15 August 2010, at Hill Garden Restaurant in Shiva Marg of Dharan.

According to Rajesh Bidrohi, a local journalist, the threats have been increased once the incident of journalist Lilanath Gimire occurred. He also claimed that the propaganda against journalists was occurring on the directives of SSP Lama.

"SSP Lama has been misbehaving with journalist using miscreants", said Bidrohi, "Journalist in the district can not move away from home in the evening due to rampant threats from police."

SSP Lama, however, denied his involvement in the incident. Chief District Officer Ramprasad Thapaliya pledged to enquire with SSP Lama regarding the incident soon.

Freedom Forum strongly condemns the act of placing threat-banner and poster publicly against journalists. Freedom Forum urges the government body to investigate the incident at the earliest and bring the guilty to book.

As the involvement of high-security official has come to the public, Freedom Forum asks the government to ensure impartiality and neutrality during the course of investigation. Since the constitution and other legal provisions clearly provide the right to freedom of expression and of press and right against defamation, it is now government's duty to ensure journalists' right by bringing the guilty to book.