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Banda supporters attack, manhandle journalists

Freedom Forum has been concerned over the incidents of press freedom violation occurred in the capital city, and Tanahu, a hilly district in the western Nepal on May 17, 2012.

In course of the nationwide banda (general shutdown) organized by various ethnic communities including the Brahmin and Chhetris, the banda supporters attacked editor with the Lokvani daily, Prem Prasad Poudel and executive editor Prakash Chandra Bhattarai reasoning they were riding motorcycle during banda.

Talking to Media Monitoring Desk of the Freedom Forum, editor Poudel said, "Pramin Raut, Pukar Thapa, and Bishnu Shahi attacked us in course of field reporting at Belchautara in Tanahu. They seized our Press Cards and beat up though I identified ourselves that we were journalists."

Moreover, he said the attackers used foul words on us. Mr Poudel got slight injury on his left ear due to attack.

They filed a complaint immediately in the district police. So, the police arrested and meted out action on the perpetrators, according to Mr Poudel.

Meanwhile, in the capital city of Kathamandu on the same day, the supporters of the banda manhandled chief reporter with the Rajdhani daily at Kalanki, Kathmandu while he was riding to office on motorcycle.

"Although I had the press card and showed them, they asked me to get off my vehicle and manhandled me," Mr Acharya told his newspaper.

The journalists have been the targets of the banda organizers and demonstrators in the recent days in Nepal.

Although the banda organizers in the central level claim that they respect press freedom and allow the free movement of media persons and press vehicles, it is not implemented at all. As a result, journalists are targeted again and again which has violated media persons' right to collect news and of citizens' rights to information.

Meanwhile, the police action the attackers on journalists in Tanahu is a positive deed to deter further attacks on journalists and help check self-censorship among journalists.

Therefore, Freedom Forum urges the stakeholders concerned to respect press freedom and protect journalist's rights while demonstrating in the name of rights.