Freedom Forum is shocked to learn about flurry of attacks, threats, manhandles on journalists and vandalism on press vehicles across the country on May 20, 2012.
First of its kind, Nepali media and journalists saw toughest time with rampant attacks and threats on them today in course of the nationwide banda (general shutdown) called by various ethnic communities spearheaded by Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN).
According to the reports Freedom Forum's Media Monitoring Desk received till now, the banda enforcers have turned violent towards journalists and media houses.
The Office of the Kantipur FM at Kupandole, Lalitpur, the district in the Kathmandu Valley has been picketed by the banda supporters demanding to air news in their favour.
Meanwhile, the banda enforcers and supporters of the Tharuhat Struggle Committee attacked Hari Sharma, Reporter with the Image Channel from Nawalparasi, district in the western plain of Nepal and broke his hand while making news about the banda today.
Akkal Kunwar, reporter with the Sagarmatha Television was manhandled at Thapathali, Kathmandu by the banda enforcers in spite of showing Press Card.
Similarly, reporters with the Avenues Television, Basu Satyal and Lakpa Sherpa where roughed in course of reporting in the Valley.
Reporter with the Mountain Television, Rohit Bhandari, was attacked and used foul words at Chabahil, Kathmandu.
Reporter with the Rajdhani daily, Navraj Chalise was attacked and his motorcycle vandalized at Chabahil Chowk, Kathmandu,while he was heading to office.
The vehicles belonging to the Kantipur TV, Himalaya TV, Avenues TV, Nepal One TV, and Citizens' FM were vandalized at different parts of the Kathmandu valley.
It is reported that journalists in Chitwan, a district in the southern plain of Nepal, have been threatened of lives if they made news was about banda.
The banda enforcers and their supporters have not spared even the ambulance and vehicles of diplomatic mission in addition to the press vehicles in the country.
Not only the media houses and journalists but also various other sectors including rights defenders, civil society persons and other professionals have shown grave concerns over the flurry of attack and threats on media and journalists.
The threat and attack in media is unbridled in deed.
In the name of rights, the NEFIN and other ethnic groups have organized three-day banda throughout the country beginning from today. While various other groups out of the capital city are also in banda which have left journalists in jeopardy.
Media persons have been targeted by the protesters. The violation of press freedom has worried the media persons and rights defenders now.
With this, a chaos is likely to follow in the days ahead which would undoubtedly suppress journalists' rights and citizens' right to information.
Freedom Forum therefore strongly urges the agitating groups to respect others' rights while protesting for their rights. More importantly they need to be restraint and media friendly in spite of imposing news on media.
Similarly, the government must provide security to the media houses and journalists working in risk throughout the country to protect people's right to information.