Two journalists have been barred from entering into the Kailali District Treasury Controller Office in Dhangadi on January 16 (Tuesday) for news reporting. Kailali district lies in the Province-7 of Nepal. The office has also declined to register Right to Information (RTI) application from the two journalists, barring the citizens from using their constitutional right to access information held by public agency.
Acting head of the office Dammar Singh Thagunna obstructed district correspondent of Nagarik National Daily Dil Bahadur Chhatyal and journalist Pushpa Raj Joshi when the two visited the office to collect some information from the office.
According to the journalists, they had sought details of approval of Transportation Allowances and Dearness Allowances for government employees in recent months following a complaints of irregularities in the orruce.
Quoting correspondent Chhatyal, stringer Dahal explained,"Thagunna and office accountant Mahadev Panta warned journalists to leave the office stating that the office doesn’t provide any permission for journalists to visit for news reporting. They (journalists) had asked about the head of the office but the two officers ordered them to leave the compound using harsh words and said journalists don’t have any right to ask any queries about the office."
According to the journalists, they returned to their office with bare hands to avoid ‘manhandling’ from acting head of the office Thagunna. The behaviour of the government officer was very cruel towards them. “He also refused to register our application for Right to Information which is our constitutionally protected right,” said Freedom Forum's stringer Ashok Dahal quoting corresponding Chhatyal.
On next day of the incident both journalists registered the RTI application at the office with the help of other local journalists.
Freedom Forum expresses its serious concern over the incident which violates the constitutionally guaranteed press freedom and right to information. While the country has already ushered into the federal setup, transparent and proactive disclosure of information on public services and their delivery should be the utmost priority. However, the government official's involvement in intruding the journalist's right to free reporting is something ironical.
Hence, FF hereby, urges the concerned authority to respect press freedom, citizen's access to information and enable safety environment for free expression practitioners.
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