Reporter to the Nagarik daily Shibahari Ghimire and reporter to the dainikinews.com online news portal Ramhari Karki received threat from a group of people operating illegal sand excavation in Lalitpur district of the Kathmandu Valley on March 31.
According to reporter Ghimire, four people in two motorcycles followed them while heading to remote Dukuchap of Lalitpur where the illegal sand excavation was rampant avoiding administration's attention.
“Four people followed us after I took some photos of the sand mine area and some other people gheraoed us and started questioning why we took photos. They threatened us to leave the site immediately,” he added.
The two journalists however managed to call Lalitpur Police seeking help for rescue from the gang. Two police persons including Sub Inspector Krishna Sitaula rescued the two journalists from the group and provided security for reporting on the illegal sand excavation, according to Ghimire.
While returning from the area, yet again, another group blocked their way and started enquiring whether they were journalists. According to Ghimire the two police however told the group that they were not journalists 'to avoid further tensions'. The police finally escorted the reporters to their offices.
Importantly, Chairman of Godawari Municipality Ward No 8, Suk Bahadur Lama, was also in the group comprising sand smugglers, according to the journalists.
Earlier, Ghimire had received death threat from unknown persons after reporting about rampant illegal sand mining in the area last year also.
The incident shows journalists reporting the corruption, crime and irregularities are targeted by the various untoward elements. It is quite abhorring that people's representative is also in the gang to threat journalists.
Freedom Forum vehemently condemns the incident that has violated press freedom. If the police had not given security, escorting the journalists, the journalists might have been attacked. FF appreciates the police role on saving journalists, and also demands the local administration to immediately grill the smugglers to avoid future threat and attack.
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