At a time when the political parties have reiterated their commitments to freedom of expression and press freedom, and the government working for democracy, eight journalists associated with various media were arrested on the run up to the elections to the House of Representatives and provincial parliament held in two phases- first on November 26, and second on December 6.
Journalist Dipesh Shahi, reporter with ratopati.com news portal is one among those who was detained and released after the election on December 12.
On November 19, Shahi was arrested from Norvic Hospital where he was covering the news about the demise of Prakash Dahal, son of former Prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
“Some people abruptly seized my bag, mobile and purse and asked me to go under the bridge” he said to Freedom Forum's Province No 3 stringer, Ashok Dahal, while sharing about the arrest.
Until then, Shahi was unaware about the arrest. He came to know about their identity only after seeing police officer inside the police van parked under the bridge. “I asked about the reason why I was in detention but they just said they were ordered to arrest,” he recalled.
Moreover, as the Stringer mentioned, journalist Shahi said, "They tried to distort my statement and asked me to admit that I was involved in making disturbance relating to election.”
After he declined the accusation, he was asked to record statement for three to four times a day. “They indirectly threatened me to implicate in any cases. I faced lots of mental torture in the custody but they didn’t resort to physical torture,” Shahi said.
Moreover, during the detention, Shahi was forced to share his passwords of social media account to the police but he declined it. The police inquired about his contact with Chand-led party leaders.
In a question how he took his detention, journalist Shahi mentioned, “It was quite strange for me to be detained because I was not involved in any activities of offence and I was not a member of the party led by Chand. They just detained me without any reason.”
Police released Shahi on December 12, in a condition to appear within 10 days to the police and within a month at Kathmandu District Administration Office. Though the police had prepared all documents for filing case of public offence against the arrested journalists including Shahi the police backtracked from its plan following the public pressure.
Freedom Forum had been keenly watching the intimidation on media persons.
Shahi has been involved in professional journalism for the last five years. He has worked at internet-based news portals- khabardabali.com, Pahilopost.com, Nepalkhabar.com and Madhyanha daily.
This incident shows the journalist was arrested without sufficient ground of 'disruptive activities targeting election' as alleged by the security.
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