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Correspondent attacked while covering smuggling story

Correspondent for Kantipur and The Kathmandu Post dailies from Gorkha district, Sudeep Kaini, was brutally attacked by sand smugglers in Tanahun district on January 15, Monday. Both Gorkha and Tanahun districts are situated in Province 4 of Nepal.

Sharing the incident with Freedom Forum, Correspondent Kaini said, "I reached the site to report on illegal sand excavation taking place at Aabu Khaireni in Tanahun being based on a tip-off from locals on the issue. While I was capturing snaps of the site and excavators being used there, a group of four youths approached me asking with whose permission I took those pictures and also threatened me to omit the pictures."

He went on saying that "I revealed my identity showing press and visiting cards. Despite this, they snatched and smashed my camera and mobile phone, and uttered indecent words to me. Moreover, they caught my neck and kicked on my back".

However, he was rescued by some locals and two businesspersons who reached the site in the meantime. He received his camera and mobile phone but with all the pictures deleted.

Being alone during the incident, I was much scared and even after the attack I was unaware about the assailants, he recalled saying, "Had the locals not rescued me, they would have killed me". He had sustained minor injuries on his neck and back.

According to correspondent Kaini, police arrested and detained the perpetrators at Area Police Office, Tanahun.

Nevertheless, the group has been putting pressure on me to dismiss the case with certain compensation, the correspondent shared. "I denied their proposal and asked to follow the lawsuit for their misconduct".

It is learnt that Ranjit Shrestha, Raghujit KC, Shivaji KC, Ramkrishna KC and Subas KC were involved in the attack and  police said they have filed Public Offence case against them.

On January 17 talking to Freedom Forum's legal desk , Inspector Lok Bahadur Gurung informed that the accused have been taken into custody and will be kept in custody for the duration of 6 days for investigation.

Freedom Forum's stringer for Province 4, Rajan Upadhyay later reported that those accused of being involved in the attack of Journalist Sudeep Kaini have asked for written apologies with Correspondent Sudeep Kaini on January 19 (Friday). They have confessed their involvement in the attacks and asked for the apology stating that the incident occurred due to unawareness. The accused have also committed to respecting the Press Freedom, Journalists' role in reporting news and cooperate them during the reporting.

Kaini had filed Public Offence case against attackers namely: Ranjit Shrestha, Raghujit KC, Shivaji KC, Ramkrishna KC and Subas KC at Area Police Office Tanahun.

Stringer Upadhyay further informed that accused have also agreed to compensate the belongings of journalist Kaini, damaged by them during the attack.

Quoting Kaini stringer Upadhyay argued that everyone should respect the journalist who are on duty and are in field for reporting. One should seek for the legal help in case of any incident incurred against journalists, rather than staying quite. This would help reduce the attack against journalists, stressed Kaini.

Furthermore, Kaini again assured that he would not withdraw the case as the accused are still in the police custody.

Freedom Forum appreciates journalist's decision to fight against the perpetretors and also assures to provide support to the journalist to cater justice to media and media persons.

Freedom Forum vehemently condemns the brazen attack on journalist. The Nepal Constitution guarantees freedom of press and of expression. However, the media persons are still under threat due to their profession mainly when they report corruption and smuggling related incidents. Hence, FF urges the concerned authority to take swift actions against the perpetrators and ensure justice to the media persons. Safety of journalists shall also ensure free reporting atmosphere for the working journalists which in a way has direct bearing on citizen’s right to access information.

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