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Police release editors Bhandari, Bhatta after a day: update

With mounting concern from the media fraternity and organizations as Freedom Forum, editors duo Khem Bhandari and Ganesh Dutta Bhatta associated with the Manaskhanda daily were released from the detention of District Police Office, Dhangadi, on Sunday (June 18) evening.

Police had arrested publisher and editor Bhandari at 12:00 noon and executive editor Bhatta at 3:00 pm on June 17, while both of them were released at 6:00pm on June 18.

Talking to FF after the release, editor Bhandari said that Police released them, saying they did not find any proof to sue them under Some Public Offence Act, as they had claimed of over the news publication.

The arrest of Bhandari and Bhatta had agitated and affected 32 journalists (seven at Manaskhanda and 25 in the district).

Due to the arrest, the daily newspaper printed 3,500 copies a day, could not be published for two days.

Responding to FF's question: What was the news that prompted security to hold them, editor Bhandari said, "On June 11, we had published a news story that police arrested two women hoteliers barring them from going to home in the late evening."

The police had arrested the editors for investigation after a complaint was filed against them at District Police Office. The complaint was lodged by the family of the arrested women hoteliers.

In the complaint, the applicant argued that the news hurt social life of his daughter and sister.

Bhandari is the former chair of Minimum Wages Fixation Committee.

Freedom Forum again condemns the arrest of the journalists merely for writing news. The police arrested the journalists as if they were criminals. If anyone has the complaint about news, he/she can complain it at Press Council Nepal.

Similarly, the invocation of the Some Public Offence Act by the police in this case is the gross misuse of the authority.

For More Information,
Freedom Forum
Thapathali, Kathmandu
Post Box No: 24292
Phone No. 4102030, 4102022
Website: www.nepalpressfreedom.org; www.freedomforum.org.np