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Media House Vandalism-Violation of Press Freedom

Freedom Forum has been seriously concerned over an incident of press freedom violation occurred in capital city, Kathmandu, on September 4, 2011.

A group of unidentified persons came on five motorcycles entered the office of the Naya Patrika national daily at Kamalpokhari, searched editor and started vandalizing randomly.

Deputy General Manager of the national daily, Bharat Pokharel told Media Monitoring Desk of the Freedom Forum that nine unknown persons barged into the office at 10:30 am, snapped the telephone wire, smashed computer and broke down editor's desk, other furniture and window pane over a crime-related news the paper published the same day. The paper had published the news - 'Three held with sword' on its third page.

A group of youths led by Vice-president and Secretary of Nepal Students' Union of Kathmandu-based Pashupati Campus Chabahil - Rajan Shrestha and Raj Kumar Sigdel - was allegedly involved in vandalizing office in the name of refuting news.

"Whether the vandalism was carried by any organization of political party or by any gang of goons, it is against press freedom and freedom of expression. It has not only challenged the security of media and journalists, but also suppressed people's right to information", said Freedom Forum Chairman Taranath Dahal, adding, if it was the case of twisting news content the innocent side could take legal recourse rather than rowdy way for justice.

He further demanded the state authority to fairly investigate into the incident and bring the guilty to book so as to check impunity.

Moreover, the incident shows the media in the country is not spared even in the Capital city where people expect better rule of law, and order. Similarly, it has created terror among the journalists that they are bound to work in an insecure atmosphere thereby practicing self-censorship. The recurring incidents of press freedom violation have badly afflicted the journalists. As a result, the empowerment of the media and media person is lagging behind.

Freedom Forum again urges the government to create safe and secure environment for the media persons to carry out their works so as to protect people's right to information. The Forum also urges journalists to flow accurate, balanced and credible news to maintain its watchdog role so that its content does not create controversy.

Narayan Ghimire
Media Officer
Freedom Forum
September 5, 2011