Freedom Forum shows concern over the continued incidents of press freedom violation across the country.
Yet again, Freedom Forum's attention has been drawn seriously towards an anti-press incident that took place following the June 5 brutal attack on Biratnagar-based journalist Khila Nath Dhakal.
Parshu Ram Basnet, Morang District In-Charge of Youth Force, who is the prime accused in the attack on journalist Dhakal, warned local journalists to withdraw a written complaint lodged against him and his two aides on June 7.
The local journalists had filed a written complaint against Basnet and aides Rohit Koirala and Manoj Rai in the District Police Office, Morang.
“He (Basnet) called me today, saying the complaint can be withdrawn even after it lands in the office of the government attorney and warning us to take it back,” journalist Gokul Parajuli told a gathering of fellow journalists Tuesday. “He said he has given us a chance to withdraw the complaint and asked us to think about it (withdrawing of complaint).”
Basnet has threatened dire consequences if the complaint is not withdrawn, Parajuli added.
However, the police administration has shown reluctance to arrest prime accused Basnet even after filing the complaint. It is obvious that Basnet has been given political protection.
The police arrested Koirala on Tuesday but Basnet and Rai are still absconding.
On June 5 night, Rai and his inebriated friends had brutally assaulted Dhakal for a news story in the Nagarik daily about an attack by Youth Force (YF) cadres on a police team on the premises of Morang district court.
Rohit Koirala is Biratnagar In-Charge of the Youth Force, a young wing of the ruling CPN -UML.
Even the Legislature Parliament has raised voice against the brutal attack on journalist Dhakal on June 7.
Addressing the parliament meeting on Tuesday, UCPN (Maoist) Spokesman Dinanath Sharma said, "The incident of a journalist being attacked by the members of the prime minister´s own party´s youth organization, Youth Force, is very serious. Such an incident gives very wrong message to the people."
But the government, till now, is turning deaf ear to this. It clearly indicates that political leaders are giving protection to the criminal persons thereby promoting the impunity.
Freedom Forum, as an organization working for the freedom of expression, right to information, human rights and democracy in the country, condemns the threats issued to the journalists. The government and other concerned authorities must arrest prime accused Basnet immediately and bring him to book as per the existing law. If he is not meted out justice, the impunity goes unabated with growing insecurity to the journalists. Moreover, it shows the media freedom gagged with weakening democracy in the country.
Freedom Forum welcomes the seven-day arrest warrant issued against Parshuram Basnet, district vice-chairman of Youth Force on July 6, 2011. The warrant was issued in connection with his involvement in the attack on Biratnagar-based journalist Khilanath Dhakal on June 5. Basnet is the prime accused of the attack.
A single bench of judge Meghnath Bhattarai of District Court, Morang, issued the warrant against Basnet and ordered to remand to custody both the culprits- Youth Force Biratnagar In-charge, Rohit Koirala and Member Manoj Rai for further investigation as the mastermind behind the attack Parshuram Basnet is still absconding.
After deliberating for four days judge Bhattarai issued the order on July 6.
The court ruling came at a time the government has been proved almost irresponsible to nab the prime accused Basnet. He is given political protection, it is crystal clear.
Journalist Dhakal was attacked brutally on June 5, almost a month back, over the news he wrote about Basnet gang's attack on police team and prisoner on the premises of the Morang District Court.
The Office of the District Attorney, Morang, on June 30, had filed a case against Youth Force Morang In-Charge, Parshuram Basnet and two of his accomplices at the District Court in connection with the murderous attack.
Rohit and Manoj were presented at the Morang District Court by police when the case (registration no 1720) was filed.
It is sheer mockery of the administration to fail arresting the mastermind of the murderous attack for such a long time since the attack. Freedom Forum abhors government's double standard, as it is promising to nab Basent and giving him political protection at the same time. So, Freedom Forum reiterates its demand with the government to help arrest him now.
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